The Sporting News Today ran a "Camp Countdown" story today on the Bengals that had multiple themes:
- There is no such thing as a short leash with the Bengals; Marvin Lewis is safe.
- Without Carson Palmer, opponents don't fear the passing game.
- According to an opponent, Marvin Lewis prefers the 4-3 defense but keeps drafting linebackers better suited to the 3-4. The defense can't stop the run, can't rush the passer and has no identity.
- Unless Carson can "energize" the offense, the Bengals will again finish last in the division.
- There is not enough stability on defense to ensure success.
I am actually surprised by the shallow analysis by authors Gerry Dulac, Vinnie Iyer, and Chick Ludwig. Putting it all on Carson's back or a lack of stability on defense is so easy, but the article fails to cite any off-season upgrades or probe the implications of the lack of an established running back, the inexperience on the offensive line, etc.
On a positive note, the article includes a boxed quote from CBS analyst Phil Simms, who said, "I would be leery of this team. They stayed competitive last year, even though they didn't have a healthy Carson Palmer and their offense was dreadful. You look at how hard they played - and with passion. It's possible they surprise some people this season." I think that aside from Lapham, Phil may have just became my favorite analyst.
Unfortunately, I think Bengals fans see a last place finish in the cards. I see that the team is now running ads for ticket packages. I recently donated two season tickets to a charity for auction and the selling price was less than the price of one ticket alone. I guess I could blame the economy but it is so much more fun to blame Mike Brown.