After last night's heartbreaking loss to the rival Steelers, many are calling for an end to the Marvin Lewis/Carson Palmer era. And I cannot say that I disagree at this point.
Last year the Bengals were known nationally as the “Cardiac Cats.” A team that continuously won close games. In Weeks 3 through 5 last season, the Bengals gave most Cincinnatians heart attacks in winning three straight games by 3 points. Each of these games were capped off by a Carson Palmer version of the 2 minute drill. The Bengals were a team that played old school smash mouth football and won ugly. This was supposed to be the year where they continued to win, but also regained the 2005 swagger offensively. With the arrival of TO and the drafting of Jermaine Gresham, this offense was supposed to provide fireworks every week.
Things have not panned out that way.
This year’s team has lost 4 times by a TD or less. They cannot win a close game. Tonight, they gave the Steelers a free 10 point spot due to special teams blunders. That has been the story of the year for this group. Mistake after mistake. A lack of discipline in all facets. The MNF Crew stated it best. The Bengals are a team with a boat load of “potential.” The Steelers are a team that “produces.” What would you prefer?
Recap of Tonight’s Blunder
Tonight the team showed some life in the 4th and almost put on a performance reminiscent of last season’s “Cardiac Cats,” but with style. It didn’t happen. Chad Ochocinco whimpered and wilted under the pressure. Our most sure handed receiver, Jordan Shipley dropped a pass in the numbers on the last play. Cedric Benson only accounted for 54 yards on the ground. Leon Hall, one of the top cornerbacks not only on the team, but arguably in the entire League, fell asleep at the wheel on a 39 yard TD pass to Mike “Flash” Wallace at the start of the 4th Quarter. And I could go on.
The sad thing is they really pushed the Steelers to the limit tonight. The Who Deys were down 20 points in the 4th Quarter to arguably the best team in the AFC and had a chance to win down the stretch. The aerial attack started clicking. The defense played lock down football for the majority of the 4th quarter. But it just wasn’t in the cards tonight. The ending of this game was a prime demonstration of why the Steelers are 6 and 2 and the Bengals are 2 and 6. These are two teams heading in very different directions.
A Makeover is Needed
This team has provided some flash and glamour the past couple of weeks. It has not amounted to wins. The Bengals are currently on a 5 game losing streak and are inhabiting the cellar of the AFC North. Better yet, this team has lost 10 of their last 13 games dating back to last season. Should Marvin be on the hot seat?
You better believe it. This is by far the most talented and deep team of the Marvin Lewis era. Yet they are in last place. As Wade Phillips learned yesterday in Dallas, if you have a talented squad and you don’t produce W’s, the Coach is the first guy to go. Marvin may be a good guy, but his time has come. The Lewis/Palmer era needs to come to a close.
Both Marvin and Carson are great guys. But they have not been able to get over the hump. Lewis is running an extremely undisciplined ship which continually gets ripped on by every NFL analyst across America (rightfully so). And watching Carson can just be super frustrating at times in that all of Cincinnati knows what he is capable of. Sadly for the city, he never reached that potential, which seems to be a common theme for this squad, and really this franchise.
Lastly, Bob Bratkowski, the Bengal’s Offensive Coordinator must go. He runs the most bland and vanilla offense I have ever watched. Even with a team that features the likes of Owens, Ochocinco, Shipley, and Gresham. Now I know many of you are thinking that his play calling in the 4th was okay last night. And it was. But the only time Bratkowski lets Carson utilize his weapons is when the team is down by 14 or more in the 4th Quarter. Give me a break. Why can’t the offensive playbook be open from the 1st Quarter on. What does this team has to lose at this point?
This Bengal’s team is tough to watch. There were high expectations coming into the season even before the Who Deys picked up one of the all time great receivers in Terrell Owens. The arrival of the TO Show instantly made the Cincy boys a contender. Well that has not been the case.
-Though Carson showed glimpses tonight, he is not a shell of what he was in 2005.
-This team is horrible all around on special teams even including the sure footed Mike Nugent tonight. Quan Cosby may be the worst punt returner in the entire NFL. Why would you have a guy returning punts that is 0 threat to ever take one back?
-The O-line cannot protect. Carson seemed to be rushed on every play the entire 2nd half even when the comeback was being amounted.
-Chad Ochocinco is not Chad Johnson. His head is “Dancing With the Stars.”
-Cedric Benson has shown big play ability on the ground, but he does not get much opportunity since this team is always fighting for dear life to come back late in games.
-And Marvin Lewis’s squad is extremely undisciplined all around. This team is highly penalized and makes a plethora of mental mistakes every game. What was going through Leon Hall’s head on the deep ball to Mike Wallace at the beginning of the 4th Quarter tonight?
-I mean this team has the 3rd ranked defense in the NFL in regards to yards given up a game. Yet they are 2 and 6?
I am still a huge Bengal’s fan. I am still pulling for this team to save face this year. But this is definitely not the “Cardiac Cats” from a year ago. People can still refer to this Bengal’s team as the “Cardiac Cats,” but not for the same reasons they were called this nickname in 2009. This team really needs a makeover in the offseason. It will all start with getting a new head coach and a new quarterback sadly.
What are your thoughts?
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.