The win against the Browns was great. That doesn't change the fact the Bengals have had a depressing season full of frustration. Going into the final weekend of the season, the Bengals mustered two positives last Sunday -- other than the win. We made it rather difficult for the Browns to make the playoffs. They do not control their own destiny anymore. Note: How can one control their destiny if destiny is a perception that's already defined? It's like the Ohio State Buckeyes having a subpar season but beating the Michigan Wolverines forcing them to shred their Rose Bowl plane tickets.
Another positive is the play of our secondary. Not necessarily the results. But the encouragements -- hey Bengals fan here, we look for positives... seriously. Sunday, of the four starters in the secondary, three were rookies. The eldest is 24 years old and the most experienced is only in his second season. It seems to me that the Bengals have laid out the foundation for a young secondary. That process was supposed to have been set at linebacker between 2004-05. Unfortunately, so much has happened in the past two seasons that the team will need to reset their linebacker foundations. And for the love of god, find some youth on the defensive line that will actually play consistently.
Fans quickly turned on this team fearing that the Lewis era masked the problems that still exist. Problems that Lewis -- Chris Mortensen pointed out on ESPN's NFL Sunday Countdown -- is joining with the general fan consensus. We need an overhaul in the front office and the personnel department. Again, we're hitting the stages of speculation. And again, I don't see Mortensen as a guy that simply makes something up. Will he report on something that may turn out to be nothing? Well, yes. He's similar to a gossip reporter talking about things he heard from anonymous sources that wanted the story leaked. Whether that report is true or not, we have no idea. Pro Football Talk picked up the story also.
We reported several months back that Lewis wants the team to hire a General Manager. Presumably, Lewis also wants the team to add more scouts.
Lack of a full scouting staff has most likely contributed to the presence of so many players with questionable character. As we've heard it from multiple league insiders, the team's decision to go cheap when it comes to hiring scouts has resulted in "safe" decisions to draft talented players who have slid down the board due to character issues.
We all agree this team needs to change the front office. We need executives with football wisdom. We need to revamp the entire personnel department. The Bengals need football smarts to fall in line with consistent NFL success. Will they? I doubt it. The Brown family is too damned stubborn and egotistical to step aside fully and allow people with football smarts to run the team's personnel.
Thus, here's the realistic problem that many refuse to acknowledge. There's no way established head coaches in the mold of Marty Schottenhiemer or Bill Cowher, will even remotely think of taking the job. Why? Other than a chat with the front office about their impressions, they have little, if any, actual power. I doubt either will just be headc coaches either. Not in this age when coaches play a form of GM. And really, will Brown pay the money necessary for a head coach after hearing Cowher could be in the $10 million bracket? I doubt it.
If you need your Ethan Kilmer fix, here it is. The season-long IR resident was named the fifth best athlete by the Daily and Sunday Review -- a small Towanda Pennsylvania newspaper.
Shaun Smith plays the role of asshole pretty well.
"I blame (Graham) for the reason we lost last year and didn't make the playoffs," Smith said. "That's why I have so much - how do you say it? - hatred toward him. It is what it is. I'm on to bigger and better things."
"I blame him. All he had to do was get the snap and kick the ball, and we'd have been in the playoffs," Smith said.
Graham could care less. Then you think about it for a moment. Not only did he lack any contribution during that season riding the coattails of a great offense; but he couldn't even consistently break into a regular role on one of the league's poorest defenses. The irony? The Bengals may have eliminated asshole and the Browns from the playoffs.