What should have been a bounceback year for the Bengals has turned sour. Cincinnati fans are getting tired of the empty promises.
This hasn’t happened in a few years. It’s Week 13 and the Bengals are looking at being eliminated from the playoffs. If you know anything (or care to know) about this team, this year’s version is a dud. Floundering along at 3-7-1 is not what diehard fans envisioned after five straight postseason appearances. At this point, the Bengals should be preparing for a playoff win. Five years is enough practice.
Instead of a team on the rebound, playing with passion and fire, fans get microwaved leftovers. What should be the crowning year–for a team that almost made it–has turned sour. From Week 1 there seemed to be something amiss with this team. Barely beating the New York Jets was a warning. Sure, the emotion of 9/11 hung in the air. But, professionals know how to motivate. That, dear readers, is the reason most fans are fed up. The lack of drive is a direct extension of who’s in charge.
During the Bengals’ five-year playoff run, there have been some great moments. There have also been moments that have made many fans wonder what’s wrong with Marvin Lewis and Co. In fact, each year has ended the same way. The Bengals lose and Marvin’s position on the hot seat is questioned. Miraculously, he always lands on his feet.
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Lewis Had Early Love
There’s no need to sign petitions and threaten to riot on Government Square. Lewis is going to be here a while. Please. Don’t pretend like it wasn’t music to your ears when Mike Brown announced his hiring. He turned a franchise around and made it…mediocre. But, that’s better than horrendous. The fact that Brown and some fans have settled for mediocrity is what makes the sting a throbbing migraine.
Living through the Lost Decade of the 1990s was like having a role on The Walking Dead. Each time you get your script, there’s bound to be a zombie. Yet, there’s just enough drama and intrigue to bring you back. Unlike TWD, there’s a ton of bad acting going on with Bengals’ brass.
The bromance between Lewis and Brown has taken on epic proportions. It would take a gigantic collapse for the love affair to end. Even then, it would have to be a two or three-year stint. Things would have to go south fast and Brown would have to start losing money. The only way that happens is with no ticket sales. Unfortunately, Cincinnati fans have become enamored with the subpar performance of players and coaches.
No More Promises…It’s Time To Finish
Yes, the Bengals have gotten better. But, at what price? What good is a team that goes to the postseason each year and promptly loses? Every year, Lewis gives the same old tired speeches about digging deeper and having determination. What has it gotten the players and fans? Essentially, some cool t-shirt sayings and faded hope for the playoffs.
Not only does the coaching staff need to get things going, the players have to produce. Early in the year, Bengals players had a closed-door meeting. It was supposed to clear the air and jump-start the season. Well, it’s Week 13 and the Bengals need help from other teams. Yup. The players only meeting went really well.
Don’t get your knickers in a bunch. I’ve been a Bengals fan since 19 and 75 (hope that sounded old enough). Like some of you, I truly believe it’s possible to turn this franchise around. But, it’s not about piling up 10,11, and 12-win seasons. It’s about getting over the hump and advancing to the next round.
Having a double-digit winning season and then going home for the holidays is not proof of success. That’s called settling for the lesser of two evils. Most people would rather “settle” for wins and postseason losses over a string of losing seasons. But, that eventually wears thin too. Either way, nothing is gained. A team that wins 12 games and goes one-and-done in the playoffs is no better than a team that went 4-12. All they get is a lovely parting gift.
I stated during the offseason that the window is closing for this team. I took substantial heat for that stance. But, looking at what has happened in less than a year…that was an understatement. The window is boarded up. The Bengals have been in numerous games that could turn the season around. Each time they laid an egg.
It’s time to get some answers as to why this team isn’t performing. Getting that patented look of bewilderment from Lewis–after each loss– has run its course. If he can’t lead the troops into battle, he should be offered a job upstairs. He’s shown he can put the pieces together but the players aren’t responding.
The Eagles are in town for a last-chance win. If Marvelous Marv’s Men come out flat and unprepared, don’t be surprised. Suddenly, that’s how the Bengals roll.