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A different perspective on the Bengals season

I know most of you don't agree with me. But the following is just a perspective I wanted to share that might help you deal with this challenging season with more ease.

I contributed with the New York Times' blog The Fifth Down before the Bengals 23-26 loss to the New York Giants. I predicted the Bengals would lose, 38-10. Well, can you blame me, knowing what happened the first two weeks?

Nearly everyone is pondering the following (in so many words): Did you see encouragement in the Bengals loss?

Welcome to Positive Bengals Fans Week

It's almost like a question posed during the Age of Helplessism (period in which Mike Brown took over, up until Marvin Lewis took over as the team's head coach). Or the Lost Decade. Or whatever cute moniker people come up with.

Some are simply logical: "A loss is a loss, of course of course." Some are so optimistic, it makes you sick, like this idiot: "Bengals are 3-0 against three undefeated teams". Some are just so pessimistic that you tend to ignore them because they say the same things no matter how many ingenious directions their ingenious minds take them. Not that I mind, but why give the effort if you're not going to give the team a chance? We're not even out of the first month of the season.

At the same time, if you believed this Bengals team was going into the playoffs before the season started, you're simply a delusionist (I admittedly was before the preseason) -- an admirable trait that expects nothing less than perfection, no doubt; but bound for disappointment. This was a rebuilding season, with new defensive personnel, rookies that need time and experience to groom, a new defensive coordinator, etc. Since last season, we have new starters at safety, running back, left defensive end and weak-side linebacker. Not to mention, we have a new starting middle linebacker compared to opening weekend last season. There's a rebuilt backup secondary, a change-over at linebacker, an offensive line that's next on the "personnel development" project going into next season, an all-star wide receiver with ankle and shoulder problems, a very good full back on injured reserve, etc...

Most of the above was known before the season started.

So when people ask me what's with my suffocating and over-bearing optimism., it's simple; I stopped fooling myself into believing this team was going to be 11-5, or 9-7, or even 8-8 because our personnel is changing. We have noticeable weaknesses that need to be addressed, and (for the love of god) a serious consideration for a new offensive system that's able to adjust based on the conditions and situations.

I'm not trying to insult anyone; though someone is bound to take and mold what I say into something they believed I said. Nor am I trying to influence you on this perspective. What I'm trying to do is provide a better outlook. Look, the Bengals were within a Sam Madison swat on third down, or a rainbow side-winding Eli Manning pass that was nearly picked off by four Bengals defenders. Perhaps the referee says that Plaxico Burress doesn't get both feet in on the 28-yard reception. Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps. A loss is a loss, right? Yep. No doubt.

But we're still in muggy September, only two games away from tying the Steelers in the standings and, the Ravens have only played two games. They beat the Bengals by a touchdown, and had an impromptu bye week to prepare for the Cleveland Browns. Those teams in the NFL expected to take the wild card, aren't really that great. Things are generally still close, even though we lost our first three games.

AFC North Standings

Baltimore 2 0 1 45 20
Pittsburgh 2 1 0 54 38
Cleveland 0 3 0 26 66
Cincinnati 0 3 0 40 67

(updated 9.22.2008 at 4:29 AM EDT)

We're not out of this division; we're on par for the Wild Card, if the team replicates their effort and we translate that into wins. At the same time, moral victory's are for wimps and young children. However, after the Giants...

Levi Jones just gave up another sack.

...I have a better feeling going into this week than I did last week after the Titans. That's encouragement. Perhaps it's because we're facing an equally, what's the word, challenged team with a winless record. Not that that matters, right? A win is a win.