It’s either a sign that major positive changes are coming, or it’s one where the doomsday clock has begun ticking.
Per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, the Cincinnati Bengals players held a “players-only meeting” this week. This get-together comes on the heels of two heartbreaking losses in back-to-back weeks.
There were a few leaders of the meeting who did the speaking, and not coincidentally, they wear the captains’ “C’s” on their respective jerseys. Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Carlos Dunlap and Clayton Fejedelem all spoke to the team, as both frustrations were vented and hope seemed to have sprang from the come-to-Jesus gathering.
With that said, some players did try to talk down the meeting.
“We’ve done it before. It’s nothing out of the ordinary,” said offensive lineman Trey Hopkins, who has been filling in for center in Billy Price’s absence the past five-plus games. “When you have games that have gone the way they’ve gone the last couple of weeks, it’s not a big secret.”
While this isn’t the first time these leaders have called this type of meeting, it seems to be a bit of a rarity. And, that’s what points to the emphasis and potential effect of such a briefing.
Since the exoduses of players from the mid-aughts and even recently in the form of Adam Jones, Marvin Lewis has strove to build a cohesive locker room. If we are to take any signs from this meeting and based on what Hopkins said to the media about it, the 16-year Bengals head coach has seemingly created some form of a cohesive and strong locker room.
“We’re all about keeping everybody together and getting us back on track. We have a group of great leaders in this locker room,” Hopkins continued. “When they have something to say, they make it known. I’m sure nothing was said that hasn’t been said already in here to you guys (the media).”
The losses against the Steelers and Chiefs were respectively different. Cincinnati seemed to play with high effort against Pittsburgh, only to come up short. Meanwhile, they looked lethargic and lackadaisical in Sunday night’s 45-10 drubbing against Kansas City.
Apparently Dalton harped on the fact that the sky isn’t falling with the Bengals still near the top of a messy AFC North race at 4-3. With a win against the Buccaneers on Sunday, tempers will cool, as the team will use the bye week to get healthy after so many critical injuries have hit them in the first half of the year.
In terms of what exactly was said, that’s a bit of a secret despite Hopkins’ words, as it probably should be. Fejedelem, the hero from the Week 1 win over the Colts said as much.
“It was in-house. Player to player. We listened to a few players and that was it. It shouldn’t be talked about anywhere else,” the third-year safety said.
What is known is the theme. The players believe that this roster is far better than their 4-3 record and are flat-out embarrassed by the past two weeks. More or less, it’s a good sign for the team, as they’ll likely be playing angry on Sunday against Tampa Bay.
This meeting also comes on the heels of some recent interesting comments from Dunlap, who said they were “out-executed” last week against the Chiefs and even quoted Albert Einstein’s famous line about insanity with the loss to the Steelers. We had also hoped a thing like this would happen in the wake of a five-touchdown loss on primetime.
We’ll see if it pays off this weekend and for the rest of 2018.