After the defining 'soul-sucking' performance of the Marvin Lewis era yesterday afternoon against the Ravens, Mike Brown Bengals owner Mike Brown decided to make his first public comments of the season (if you don't count his lament that a high school has better facilities than his NFL team).
Let's break this down, with the original Q & A from Curnutte and Brown, followed by Who Dey Revolution's take.
Question: What is Marvin Lewis’ status as head coach?
Answer: “I am not going to give one of those endorsements. They (Lewis and his coaching staff) are the same people who have been here for years now. They coach the same. They are teachers. They do their jobs.”
WDR's Take: Couple things here.
First of all, he is making the statement that this is the same staff (save a few positional coaches and Chuck Bresnahan) that coached the 2005 squad. The same squad that got bounced in the first round of the playoffs. I've said it before and I'll say it again: 2005 was the worst thing to happen to Bengals fans. If Mike Brown lives to be as old as his father (Mike is 71, Paul Brown lived to be 82), 2005 set this franchise back a good 15 years...because he will always look back on that season and say...we did it once our way, and we can do it again.
Second, I think Mike is saving himself from embarassment. Mike and Marvin are heading towards a showdown in the offseason, where essentially Marvin will demand front office help or else. Mike will obviously decline, and a buyout will be reached. Marvin will walk-away with somewhere between 3-4 million (he is owed $7 million on the remaining two years of his contract). It's hard to endorse someone when you are headed into an offseason like that.
Q: Where have things gone wrong this season?
A: “It is hard to have success in this league without your key players. We’re playing with literally less than half of the people we thought would be our starters. … We lost Carson Palmer, who is our linchpin player. We lost our best defensive player before the season started, (linebacker) Odell Thurman.
"The linebacker corps we thought that we would be playing with was (Keith) Rivers, Thurman and (David) Pollack. They are all gone, two for good.
“When you have that kind of erosion on your football team, it is hard to be successful. We have not managed to overcome it.”
WDR's Take: Of course, Mike Brown took the injury excuse. What makes the man look senile, however, is regretting that the Bengals don't have players that haven't taken a snap in OVER TWO YEARS!! You were counting on Odell Thurman and David Pollack playing this year, seriously? Pollack has had an unfortunate set of circumstances, but crap we all thought the guy was done playing back in September of 2006...and now Mike Brown is just realizing that he's not out there making tackles? As for Odell, the Bengals knew they were taking a big time chance when they drafted him in 2005. He came out of Georgia with baggage, so you can't cry foul when it doesn't work out. It's hard for someone to be your best defensive player in 2008 when he hasn't played in a real, live NFL game since the infamous playoff game in January 2006.
If college football is a coaches league, then the NFL is a players league. You need to have a defined system and approach to selecting players...so that when players do get hurt, you can fill their spots with players who can perform at a high level, and still win football games.
And about Carson Palmer...keep in mInd Mike that this team was 0-4 with Carson at the helm. Carson doesn't play running back, doesn't play offensive line, and doesn't play defense. This team, at absolute best, would be 3-9 if Palmer was healthy.
Q: Will Marvin Lewis have the chance to overcome this season?
A: “You cannot answer that question without undercutting someone. I am not going down that path. I think in many ways he has done an incredibly good job. Our players still try hard. He has them out there trying to the best of their ability.”
WDR's Take: While I am in no way blaming this entire disaster of a season on Marvin Lewis...imagine the riots in the streets in ANY OTHER NFL CITY if their team finished a season with ONE WIN, and their coach of six years was brought back. Then imagine that their offensive coordinator, with a bottom feeding offense, was brought back for his ninth season. Now you can understand how absurdity of "he has done an incredibly good job." No wonder Mike Brown talks only twice a year.
Q: Is this season worse than 2002, when you finished 2-14 and made major changes? Does this season require as much change to fix?
A: “I don’t want to compare disappointments. This one is felt keenly. … I am pleased with the effort. I am pleased with our coaches’ effort.”
WDR's Take: Any owner that is pleased with a coaches or players effort that results in a 1-10-1 record should be removed from office. Period. In 2002, three year commitments were up for club seat holders. Mike made a change, because he needed the 100% Bengals-only revenue that those seats produce. Some either renewed their seats or dumped them...only to come back later in 2003...or after the 2005 season. Well in either case, their contracts are up after this year. I'm not saying we are getting Bill Parcells in the offseason, but I'm just saying Mike needs something like Marvin Lewis in 2003 to sell this franchise in 2009. While season ticket holders are important...it is the CLUB SEATS and SUITES that the Bengals desparately need.
Q: You have had 20 players go on injured reserve this season. Is there a problem somewhere in the organization that you have so many season-ending injuries?
A: “Twenty-one. (Safety Marvin) White will go on injured reserve today. He tore his ACL yesterday (against the Ravens) and still played more than half of the game. … (The injuries), I wish I had an explanation for it. We have led the league in injured reserve players the past couple of years. It is a problem. We are looking for a solution.”
WDR's Take: Any solution that does not have General Manager or double-digit scouting department is not a real solution. The Giants lost their two starting defensive ends from last season. The Ravens have had double digit players on IR. The Steelers have played most of the year without their featured running back. The Patriots lost the most celebrated quarterback of this decade, and they are 7-5. Injuries happen to everyone, but if you don't have a specific plan to select players that work in your system...you end up with a record like the Bengals.
Q: Did Marvin Lewis make the sole decision on Chad Ocho Cinco in Pittsburgh when he disciplined him?
A: “(Lewis) sent Chad home without talking to me. When he did, I backed up his decision. (Discipline of players) has been all his and it is all his.”
WDR's Take: So Mike, when you decided to 'discipline' Chris Henry by re-signing him to a two year deal...that was Marvin's call too?
Q: What has to happen to turn the team around?
A: “I think things would take a quantum leap forward if we had Carson Palmer back on the field and playing the way he can play.”
WDR's Take: Again, this team was 0-4 with Carson Palmer at the helm, and would be at best 3-9 if he was healthy and in the lineup for all 12 games this season. All the injuries this year is just another crutch for Mike Brown and the front office...and the only way it gets turned around is by changing the entire culture of this franchise. Not the repair of Carson Palmer's elbow.
Q: Are you going to essentially fire yourself and hire a general manager?
A: “I call them themes. They (fans and customers) like to talk about different themes when things don’t go well. Part of being in this job, the good side of the coin is it shows the emotional connection the fans have with this football team.”
WDR's Take: Themes, sayings, little nothings whispered in your ear...call them whatever you want. Mike, this team will never have long-term, sustained success without a football person in charge of player personnel and an increased scouting department. When Marvin Lewis said that the difference between winning and losing is a lot closer than people think...he was absolutely right. And it's much closer than it was when this team was founded in 1968. That is why you need to be OBSESSED with drafting well, finding the best players to fit your system, and investing in scouting...BECAUSE the playing field is so even. You need to scour for every single little advantage that you can. You need to be relentless.
Bottom line: Interviews like this prove that Mike Brown does not have his eye on what Bengals fans do: A Super Bowl Championship. Say what you want about Bob Castellini, but can you imagine him being 'pleased' with a 1-10-1 record??
Brown told Bengals.com that this talk about a general manager would all go away if the team would win. He thinks to himself, the Steelers don't have a GM, why do we need one? Mike, the day your team wins five super bowls, is perenially in the running for a division crown, and has one of the most respected defensive units in the NFL...I'll go on record to say you don't need a GM.
Until then, you will be hearing from Who Dey Revolution. Unlike you, we are relentless.