Talented, Misled Bengals Waiting For Something To Happen

Oct 9, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) in the huddle during a time out against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) in the huddle during a time out against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Week 12 for the Bengals isn’t the end. But, for talented players waiting for something to happen, it’s the beginning of a new season.

This is not how the season was supposed to go. At this point, the Bengals were supposed to be in control of the AFC North and looking at a sixth consecutive trip to the postseason. Instead, A.J. Green is injured, Giovani Bernard is likely done for the year, and Mike Nugent can’t find the goal posts. What could be worse? Oh, Marvin Lewis is still the head coach.

Honestly, the first half of the Bengals’ schedule was a true meat grinder. Playing a Week 1 opener against the Jets in New York was bad enough. But, to stage it on 9/11…that was sheer torture. The emotional drain was incredible. Then, the task was to face the Steelers at Heinz Field. That was just a train wreck waiting to happen. Week 3 against Trevor Siemian was a kick in the groin. Hey, any given Sunday. 

After the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots handled the Stripes like a playground team, things seemed a little shaky. Fans expected a blowout against the hapless Browns. But, it almost didn’t happen. If not for the heroics of A.J. Green in the end zone, the momentum could have easily swung Cleveland’s way. The Hail Mary catch has become a part of Bengals’ lore.

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When Washington, the Giants, and Buffalo happened, there was no way to deny it any longer. This Bengals team was not the one advertised. There was something missing and it seemed to get worse as the season progressed. 

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Time To Bring Out The Curse?

It would be so easy to grease the wheels and talk about this team being cursed. Getting that old excuse out of the garbage would be perfect for what’s happening now. With the rash of injuries against the Bills on Black Sunday, what else could it be? But, I’m not going to entertain those thoughts. Actually, it might be a good idea for Mike Brown to think about who could have dumped the Cubs’ billy goat at Paul Brown Stadium. Better yet, someone should check to see if Steve Barman is now a Bengals fan.

There is absolutely no curse on the Bengals. If anything, the players and coaches need to curse themselves over the wretched performances. The fire, intensity and, passion of the 2016 team is nowhere to be found. At the beginning of the year, Bengals’ players were saying this wasn’t the same team. In essence, they weren’t lying. This year’s version of the Orange and Black doesn’t come close to what fans witnessed last season.

Will Firing Marvin Lewis Make It Right?

That’s the consensus around town. Every Bengals fan with a heartbeat for the team wants Lewis out as head coach. To be honest, who could replace him? At this point of the season, the pickings are slim. Mike Brown is an internal hire kind of guy. On one hand, that’s a good policy. But, it doesn’t give many options. Ken Zampese is already looking like the laughingstock of the year. Making him a head coach would bring on Armageddon in Cincinnati.

Until there’s a solid candidate for the HC job, fans are likely stuck with Lewis and the current crop of coaches. Yes, it’s true. It takes a while for the philosophies and schemes of new coaches to click with players. But, there’s no need for the offense to be struggling. Aren’t they using the same system…with tweaks?

With the exception of three players, the offense is still the same. If Marvin Jones, Andre Smith, and Mohamed Sanu are causing this kind of catastrophe, then Brown should be impeached. Wait…that’s only in politics right? But, it should still happen.

Yes, the rhetoric is what it is. Before Marvin Lewis took the reins, the Bengals were a disaster. Under his command, there has been a solid turnaround. Winning football is back in the Queen City. What’s not back in the city is winning when it counts. Winning 11 or 12 games a year is awesome. But, eventually, the new car smell gets old. It’s time Lewis and Co. took the Bengals further than the Wild Card or AFC North Crown.

How Did We Get Here?

Please, don’t shoot the messenger. Cincinnati Bengals fans have been spoiled. Having the accolades and double-digit win seasons has caused most people to turn a blind eye to the real problem. Lewis is not the man to lead the Bengals into battle. His football IQ is off the charts. He’s a nice guy. But, being nice has no place in the NFL. Players can be like little kids at times. Being a head coach is like being a father, big brother, and mentor all at once. Unfortunately, in all of those positions, Lewis may need to be cold and calculating. 

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Five straight years of winning football have kept fans from looking behind the curtain. Now, the real coaching wonders will have to take place. Without star players, Lewis will have to pull out some duct tape and mirrors. The season isn’t over. Week 12 is when the Bengals have to show up. Lose to the Baltimore Ravens…and the first nail is in the coffin. This team deserves better.