Bengals Giving Fans The Same Old Story

Dec 4, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis looks on from the sidelines in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 32-14. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis looks on from the sidelines in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 32-14. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Bengals fans have become numb to the same free agency antics. This has to be the year the moves turn out right. There’s no time for a reboot.

It’s one of those feelings that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. You try to make sense of it, but the eerie deja vu reality pounds the truth home. Once again, the Bengals have slapped fans in the face. Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler will be playing their brand of football for the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns, respectively.

Was it a surprise? Not really. Fans expected the worst. According to Spotrac, the Bengals are still boasting $35.8 million in cap space. That amount remains after the signings of Brandon LaFell and Dre Kirkpatrick. But, that isn’t the bottom line. Fans are furious because it’s the same old story. Bengals brass is aware of the free agent situation and responds with snail-like urgency. Instead of addressing the possibility of talent leaving, it has suddenly become a ho-hum endeavor that leaves fans frustrated.

The lack of urgency leaves a putrid taste in the mouths of faithful followers. It gives the Bengals organization a black eye and undermines the so-called “seriousness” of wanting to win a championship. Unfortunately, it seems like Mike Brown has decided that winning 11 or 12 games is enough. Has the climate in Cincinnati gotten so bad that players are willing to jump ship for a few dollars more? Certainly, that opens the door for other questions that aren’t so friendly. 

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Is Mike All About The Cash? 

When fans see the same formula repeated each year, the feeling of numbness is replaced with one of genuine despair. The popular consensus is that Brown is a miser with no heart. He just wants to make money and ride off into the sunset with a pocket full of Benjamins and the Bengals as his cash cow. Head coach Marvin Lewis has spoken in his defense, per The Cincinnati Enquirer.

"“People don’t understand how important winning is to him. I say that to people all the time. And they want to go back, they always want to go back to money. Mike Brown could care less about money. He doesn’t want you to waste his money. That’s what he doesn’t want you to do. Don’t waste his money. But whatever it takes for our football team to be successful, he’s 100 percent on board with. That’s what I know of Mike Brown.”"

The problem comes when that money issue causes players to go elsewhere. Looking at the big three that got away in 2016, each of them made an impact with the teams they landed with. If the problem isn’t with Brown then it has to be with Lewis. Right? See, that’s the problem. The lines have become blurred as to who fans want to blame. There’s enough anger and disappointment to be shared with both parties.

The Bengals will have a tough road ahead. Winning in 2017 just took a slight detour. Giving up Whitworth and Zeitler means the offensive line will be under construction. Andy Dalton will have to grow eyes in the back of his head if Cedric Ogbuehi has a repeat of 2016. Is this how you build a champion?

It’s Time To Do Something

The same old story gets boring. It’s like getting the popcorn ready for a movie that you’ve seen five times. There’s always something different to catch but the ending is always the same. Mark Twain said it best. If the world was going to end, it would be best to move to Cincinnati. Things happen twenty years later. What does that have to do with Bengals fans? A lot. It’s been 29 years since the Orange and Black have been in the Super Bowl. If things continue on the same path, it could be even longer.

Please stop making the Bengals organization look like money is holding everything back. Yes. Fans understand that the Bengals are in a small market. Cincinnati isn’t the Big Apple, Dallas or New England. But, the Bengals have been close too many times to start a reboot. Hopefully, the plan that started in 2015 will prove to be a smart move and a playoff win will finally be realized.

Lewis is aware of the magnitude of losing Whitworth. But, he’s sure Dalton has the ability to lead the Bengals through the storm.

Next: Fans Need Something To Believe

"“We’re going to miss the h*** out of Andrew and everything he did. But we pass the torch. The quarterback has picked up the torch.”"

We’ve heard that before.

Until then, Rex Burkhead is still waiting to be signed. Letting him walk away would be a sign that things aren’t that wonderful in the Queen City. Is that the real problem?