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Bengals Banter: Truth, Terror, Lies And Deception Of The Heart

COACHING CHANGES NEWS. Want an update on Bengals coaching changes? You're the only one and you're being far too nosey. That would be the response I could hear from the Bengals front office. The truth is, there is no news on any coaching changes with the Cincinnati Bengals and there's no indication that the Bengals plan to make any changes, such as letting offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski go. Normally, I'd preach patience because quite frankly, nothing is clear.

For example, Marvin Lewis confirmed that no assistant coach is signed for 2011. Lewis also responded to a question about an offensive coordinator change with, "that's kind of private to me." Private. Right. Either he doesn't want an uproar from Bengals fans for making an unpopular decision, or he doesn't want to hurt Bratkowski's feelings through the media with a public "firing".

Both would have suggested that the team made a quick choice, which is unlike their personality. "We’ll do it in our way, at our pace, after consideration and discussion," said Brown.

It would obviously be nice if news surfaced that the team signed a new core of assistant coaches to expel the frustration that a certain offensive coordinator brings. But as long as we do not hear or see a coach signing on for 2011, then nothing is certain. At the same time, the Cincinnati Bengals are predicable bunch, often doing exactly the opposite of what fans hope. So advising patience would simply be a means to refute fans eagerness to sigh about the non-changes. An effort in futility, siding against patience with Jack Buck's, "Go Crazy, folks, go crazy."

On the other hand, and this is where it might get muddy (aka, maddening), the Bengals gave linebackers coach Jeff FitzGerald permission to seek other opportunities with other teams. They can only be so gracious if FitzGerald were already under contract. Now the confusing part. If Lewis spoke honestly that no coach is signed in 2011, then why offer permission to anyone seeking another opportunity unless he was signed? Yet, if the Bengals signed FitzGerald for 2011 during this offseason, then what's the point if you're allowing him to seek other employment?

While we employ patience, it wouldn't be surprising if the Bengals did exactly what we expected them to do. Sign all of their assistant coaches, telling no one because it would upset the fans, which is in of itself confusing because...

UPSETTING THE FANS IS A FAVORITE PAST TIME. During our previous Banter, we posted an email from Katie Blackburn (by way of WDR) to an upset fan. Actually, we just copied and pasted. Either way, they updated their post with other fans that received responses from Katie, most of which hashed over the same things as before. Such as:

It sounds to me like you are just repeating things that may be said on talk radio but I can assure you you are mistaken on many points. We are going to work to have a great 2011 season. We have a strong base of players. Our offense performed very well the last couple of games when we put in the two young receivers with 371 yds and 395 yds of offense against top 10 defenses and teams that were playing to win.

And this.

I believe that we have a very strong base of players that provide the team with a strong chance to do well in 2011. We did win the division and make the playoffs in 2009. Our schedule this year was difficult (our schedule had the highest winning percentage of any team in the NFL) and we did not win enough games. We were all very disappointed with that result. When we played our two young receivers in the last several games our offense performed far better than it had been. We had 371 yds and 395 yds of offense in our last two games against top 10 defenses and teams that were playing to win.

Fine. There's actually truth to what Katie is saying. Many fans are reflecting on the team's momentum in the final three games, winning two and making the Baltimore Ravens earn their win at the end of the year. Moral victories, FTW! On the other hand, while we can't fault Katie for pushing positive reinforcement onto the fans writing to the Bengals front office, most fans are reflecting on a season in which the team only won four games. That's the end result. That's all that matters.

And that's the point that's being missed here. Bengals fans want more than positive momentum at the end of a season that posts 12 losses; they want the games to be meaningful. Most of us are veterans, being forced to dust off that "hopeful offseason feeling" (totally sounds like an Eagles song) we've been fooled into believing. It's harder for some to forget 2010 when 2011 largely appears to have the same personnel, staff and coaches.

But what's really interesting -- and lost in the conversations from the front office -- is that the fanbase's return to negativity didn't peak when the team finished the season. It happened after the team's press conference when Mike Brown defended the scouting department, downgraded Lewis' desire for an indoor practice facility, snapped and belittled Brad Johansen for doing his job and essentially articulating the distance from the Bengals front office to their fans.

That's the gap that's lost here. And until the front office mends that gap, there's no reason for fans to buy into the "let's have hope... until September" bit.

ANTONIO CROMARTIE TERRIFIED OF TOM BRADY? According to the New York Daily News, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie "ripped into the Patriots quarterback in a profanity-laced rant Tuesday, calling him an "ass----," and claiming he hates him." As giggles and joyous laughter echo of a cornerback that probably got burnt more than a couple of times during New England's 45-3 "who's your daddy" drubbing, Cromartie explained that the whole issue is that the quarterback is pointing to the Jets sidelines after scoring a touchdown.

"We see that a lot. He does it a lot," Cromartie said. "That's the kind of guy he is. We really don't give a damn, to tell you the truth."

Uh-huh. Do you mean to tell me that Brady is already in Cromartie's head without Brady saying one thing? Talk about the Bill Belichick effect. Cromartie goes into the "losing his mind" portion of his rant.

"That's what I think about him. I don't really give a damn about him," he said. "I don't have to play against him. I play against the receivers."

This makes for good ESPN drama, headlining every SportsCenter with quotes from the terrified Antonio Cromartie, who is rated as the worst Jets starting defensive back in coverage not on Injured Reserve according to Pro Football Focus. Additionally, Cromartie allowed four of seven receptions against guys he was covering during the Jets 42-point loss to the Patriots, two of which went for touchdowns. The worst quarterback rating he allowed? Tom Brady's 120.8 during week 13. On the other hand, the cornerback did pick off a Tom Brady pass in week two. Covering wide receivers against Tom Brady might not be easy, but at least he's not being asked to remember the names of his own children.

And before we make fun of him too much, when Carson Palmer targeted a receiver that Cromartie was covering, the cornerback held Palmer to a passer rating of 19.5. Why did I go there? Who knows. But John Williams' March of the Empire is playing in the background.

Jets defensive lineman Shaun Ellis agreed, but was a little more composed.

"It wasn't too much. It's just his his body language and things like that. When they scored, he'd look over to our sideline and do a little body language and all that. He was fired up for that game. We're going to get the same thing this week. It's for us as a defense to go out there and shut him down."

You know. That actually makes sense.

HOME-TEAM FAVORITES. According to Odds Shark, a sports betting site, the New England Patriots are nine-point favorites to win Sunday's AFC Division playoff game. And yet, they're not the biggest favorites this weekend. Chicago is a ten-point favorite over the Seattle Seahawks, also played on Sunday.

Both games on Saturday (Baltimore at Pittsburgh and Green Bay at Atlanta) has the home team as three-point favorites.

BROWNS HAVE A NEW HEAD COACH. You might as well learn his name. He's the former offensive coordinator from the St. Louis Rams and now the head coach in Cleveland. His name is Pat Shurmur, nephew to Fritz Shurmur, the former defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers between 1994-98, winning a Super Bowl and two NFC Championships. Browns fans are, so far, largely patient with the decision by putting their faith in Mike Holmgren.

Shurmur will be the Browns sixth different head coach dating back to 2000, which includes interim head coach Terry Robiskie who replaced Butch Davis after he resigned in December of 2004.

The Browns have won more than six games only once since 2003, (10-6 in 2007) constantly ranking as one of the worst offenses every season. Since 2002, the team has had eight different quarterbacks and six different running backs that led the team in yardage. In four of the past seven seasons, the point differential between the offense the defense has surpassed -100.

Really, Bengals fans. It could be worse. And no, that wasn't Katie Blackburn that said that.