Alright. I'm at work on New Years Eve and the morning began like most winter mornings do. A 10-minute gas guzzling warm-up to heat the frost off the car. I hate that. It slows the morning. You waste gas. And you have to prologue your routine so when you get to the car, you can have some visibility. I'm not the type, either, that will wake up earlier to accomplish these tasks. Nope. I just hope I beat the boss into work -- though he's reading this right now, I just know it. Though the roads were cleared of frustrating traffic, work still feels like a tomb with echoes of silence banging through the halls.
Right now, the alternative would be laying in bed, sleeping. Or laying on the couch. Watching the news and keeping an eye out for radical changes. Such as coaches or front office personnel. I wouldn't mind that scenario. I could have to taken the day off, but I choose to enjoy the moments of peace on the roads and at work before the New Year makes my job hectic... and hectic is an understatement.
Hectic. It's also the feeling that you get when thinking in extremes. Hectic equates to blowing things up. Or starting from scratch. Hectic, to me, is what this team needs. All the potential moves. All the potential signings. All the potential this team has to gut out the bad and implement the good. An interesting observation: If hectic doesn't summarize the Bengals off-season, then will the fans be madly hectic?
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is saying the right things. Things that we expect of a coach that's frustrated with a dead end just in front of his eyes. Players are put on notice. Coaches, too -- though not so much. The "how to" structure Lewis put together is scrapped -- thrown into a fire that the team will burn away. Point: why couldn't this change take place on the fly? Why wait to adapt until much later than you could have? Just thinking.
Change won't happen today. Won't happen tomorrow. Might not even happen until March. Regardless. This is the "on notice" point of Lewis' coaching tenure in Cincinnati. Taking a team from, well, whatever they were to a playoff bid, division title, three 8-8 seasons and -- five years after being hired -- the first losing season since 2002. If this team shows little improvement or benefits of this off-season, it could be Lewis' last. Some of you supported firing Lewis after this year. I remained skeptical. Sure, one winning season in five is frustrating as hell. There's logic to the suggestion. Why am I hesitant? He just recorded his first losing season. Coaches should have one losing season before consideration for being fired should be made. Though having four out of five mediocre seasons is a point that keeps me thinking.
Several players will likely be gone. I don't believe Dexter Jackson has a chance of sticking around. Many believe that Deltha O'Neal cashed his last paycheck. Chuck Bresnahan and Bob Bratkowski are in danger. Then again, Lewis has already indicated that most of his coaches will be back.
It's the showdown.
That's the phrase being used with Marvin Lewis' annual meeting with Bengals owner Mike Brown. Many report, mostly national persona, that Lewis and Brown will have a showdown because Lewis wants a guy with some General Manager capacity. But Lewis really wants that front office change that will give him more scouts -- more personnel evaluators. Considering the amount of pull that Lewis has been given from the Brown family, he might find himself rewarded with the effort. Now, Lewis has all but denied those assertions. Though I'm not convinced. I think he sees the same thing we've been preaching for years. The same things that give radio talking heads topics. A question asked to former players and team experts.
I don't think much will come out of the annual meeting. Then again, who knows. Information blackouts have become the status quo in the NFL.
But Lewis is still pounding that drum.
Maybe his theme for next season can be:
"A Clean Slate for 2008."
Lewis sounded like The Riddler after the Bengals' 38-25 season-ending victory over Miami at Dolphin Stadium.
Last week, he said no major changes were forthcoming. Over the weekend, he said, "It's time to blow this whole thing up and start from scratch." On Sunday, he attempted to clarify everything after the Bengals closed with two straight wins to finish 7-9. The Dolphins ended 1-15.
"We're going to make sure everything is different," Lewis said. "But there's no changes you're going to know or perceive. So you can relax.
"My point is it's been five years (with one winning record). There are some things around here that are a little stale. We need to take all those doggone binders from five years of games and get rid of 'em — clean the offices, clean the boards, clean up as though we were new people coming in. The coaches have to understand that. The players have to understand that.
I suppose all we can say now is, "we'll see."