What I'm sure of, is that I'm not pleased. Outside of that, my emotional specifics are still pretty hazy.
I'm not necessarily upset that Marvin Lewis returns for his ninth season. He isn't a bad coach at all. His record is a losing one and the laundry list of game-management complaints are all very valid, but I think he's a smart guy who (now) handles his players well from an organizational standpoint. I find his interest to return surprising, but as it is, I don't think it's a bad move bringing him back, it's just not the right one.
There can be benefits to team continuity. Franchises who are lucky enough to cruise with one coach for a decade or more, often times are winners for most of that time. Marvin definitely raised the culture of the team from awful to mediocre and at least had two playoff years, but here in frigid Cincinnati, the seat just isn't all that hot for the hometown coach. To me, this group has run its course; the key members involved have collectively peaked in their careers, and a shake up is necessary to change the mediocre culture. Like Marvin did in 2003, there should be new blood here to elevate the Bengals from mediocre to good. With plenty of new-wave players ripening before our eyes, the timing is perfect for a regime change to ensure that they're utilized better than they were before. Then, no longer would we hear a coach admit that they waited too long to get healthy prospects involved. No more would players say that they've become numb to losing or tell the media the sad truth about the offensive play-calling. It isn't Marvin I blame, it's the culture of the organization headed by a contemptuous and slithering human being, one Mike Brown.
Before I sink my talons into the poor bastard, first, in fairness, I will attempt to see the situation from his perspective:
"Alright, I own a football team. I get to do anything and everything I want to it. I get to be general manager, scout, owner, dictator, demigod, whatever! What I say goes and that's been the case for the past two decades. In that time I have enjoyed two winning seasons and have accumulated one of the worst winning percentages in sports. Because of those accomplishments, I reward myself with a general manager's bonus...annually. I have also strong-armed the county into a tax deal to fund my Dad's new stadium that I negotiated with a guy that really was working for me the whole time. Ha! And the best part...are you ready for the best part? The best part, is that I'm going to do it again really, really soon! Hahaha!!! Aren't I despicable?"
Okay, so that wasn't a fair perspective (but it was fun) and the bottom line is, Mike Brown is convinced that he runs a competitive football team when he just doesn't. He defends his scouting department with asinine stats like drafted-player retention -- which actually hurts his case as a credible team executive even more. Here are some of his actual words about his "scouting department":
"We get criticized for that because we run a lighter crew than some teams do, but I don’t know if we do badly there. We picked up Reggie Nelson this year -- that’s a pretty good acquisition. The year before, we picked up (Brian) Leonard and he helped us a lot. We have people up there who are attuned to this stuff. (Director of Player Personnel) Duke Tobin is on top of it very, very thoroughly. Today, with the communications you have, you can talk to people anytime, anywhere in this country, and we do. You don’t have to have a guy sitting in an office doing just that. You can carry this information with you as you travel and then communicate when it’s necessary, and that’s what we do. I don’t think it works badly -- I think it works all right."
Even if this system did work -- which empirical evidence suggests otherwise -- employing one person to scout makes bad business-sense because the owner then becomes reliant on one man's opinion on every prospect evaluated. What's wrong with having a guy (his words, ladies) sitting in an office collecting reports from a team of scouts looking at players in different places simultaneously? Is that too cutting edge, or just too expensive? Or if Mike Brown was to put anyone in an office, it should be a real general manager. Someone with a better eye for talent and a more appropriate handle on general player-personnel decisions. Defending yourself behind a preseason trade that only landed a decent safety is a flimsy way to "spiel" to the public, as he calls it.
The best teams in the league are put together in such a way that the appropriate layers of command and influence are distinct and visible. Along the offices of Paul Brown Stadium, however, a crucial office sits vacant since the man-with-many-hats sees no reason to fill it; he already has an office which can surprisingly house both himself and his ego. There will be no general-management frivolity displayed from this team. As the man said himself, he thinks that "it works all right" and that's good enough for him.
Had Marvin been brought back but as a GM instead of coach, I would have cartwheeled down my street. But of course that didn't happen. All that happened was that Mr. Brown reassured the world that the losing is extremely likely to continue, he's happy with his declining coaching staff, and that he wants concessions from Hamilton County taxpayers. He thinks everything is moving along swimmingly in his universe and simply isn't all that concerned with who likes it or not. He does not operate his team for the betterment of the city; he runs it for himself -- his ultimate toy.
I respect that Marvin is determined to win in Cincinnati, but he has to know the limitations here in doing that. I agree with those that feel part of him settled in this decision; it was the easy thing to do. Through his comments, I sensed that he was so bothered with being out of his routine on that Tuesday that he just couldn't stand it and wanted his job back. Of course I have no idea to the situation at all, but he just seems like that kind of guy.
Either way, he's back. In fact, as of this writing, the only person expected not to return, is Terrell Owens. That includes all the assistant coaches (including he-who-must-not-be-named), all the equipment managers, the heiress, Anthony Munoz and Paul f*!#ing Keels, those increasingly garish uniforms, Bob Bedinghaus, Minister-of-Propaganda -- Jack Brennan, and everybody else who makes up the most backward team in the league. It's an outrage that our fair city must be represented by such a jalopy, a lemon, a ship wreck of a franchise, but it's worse that it refuses to see itself as that. We need another Marvin Miracle to make this thing float into next year and beyond, and that isn't fair to him or us, but that's life. So be it.
Mojokong -- Mike Brown is a frog who still thinks his kiss is coming. What a fool.