Training camp starts today. Optimism is all over the place, and I understand why. A healthy Carson Palmer, a talented draft class, Chad in a better mood, etc. To some extent it makes sense. But, here at WDR, we have 19 years of Mike Brown's history staring us right in the face, and we look behind the surface level optimism to address how different this Bengals team is than last year's 4-11-1 debacle.
Second, a great draft class? Maybe. But remember, the same bare bones scouting department was responsible for not only evaluating hundreds of college players, but also providing input on the dozens of free agents across the NFL. Also, Andre Smith does not help unless he is in camp. I know most/many of the other first round picks have not signed. So there still is time, and the Bengals have not messed this up yet. But really, deep down, how much confidence do you have that Andre Smith will be in camp, in shape within the week? If he is, kudos to Mikey and the crew. If not, just another piece of evidence why Mike Brown is the most incompetent owner in the history of pro sports.
More after the jump.
Next, as previously discussed, the Bengals are the only team who drafted in the top 10 who made zero coaching/front office changes. Every other team who had a poor season last year, decided that new coaches and/or a front office was necessary to win. The Bengals? Nothing wrong here! Do you have confidence the Bengals were right and the 9 other NFL teams were wrong? Didn't think so.
While Mike Brown and Co. are desperately trying to sell optimism, fans are not buying it. To put it more specifically, fans are not buying tickets. We have covered this ad naseum, but tickets are not selling. WDR has predicted blackouts for some time, and we have heard rumblings that the 4 and 2 game ticket packs have sold even worse than expected. Mike Brown is banking on positive press coverage, both locally and with Hard Knocks to convince fans that things are different. Our job is to point out that things really are not different. Mike Brown is still in charge, he still does not employ football minds, and does not invest in scouting and player development.
While blackouts may anger many local Bengal fans that can not afford to pay 60+ dollars (plus parking, etc) to attend games, but still want to watch the Bengals play, there is one even worse danger for Mike Brown and Co. Fans do not care. Think about that for a second. What happens if games are blacked out, and Cincinnati Bengal fans find something else to do with their precious Sunday afternoon. What if these other activities are far more enjoyable than watching the Bengals? Maybe some play a round of golf. Maybe some people get some yard work done and please the Misses. Maybe a few go on a bike ride with the kids. Maybe some watch other, successful NFL teams. Hell, maybe a couple people decide to get some extra work done to please the boss or even read a book. I am sure Mike Brown stays awake at night, wondering, what would happen if fans just simply move on, and never come back. WDR will discuss blackouts, and what they mean for all parties involved in depth, at a later date.
Finally, the biggest reason not to be optimistic about the upcoming Cincinnati Bengals season, Vegas is not optimistic. Over/under for wins are between 6-7 wins, one of the worst in the NFL. Vegas is smart, they have very smart people, with very powerful computers, looking over vast amounts of data to predict how sporting events will unfold. Clearly, they are not perfect. They missed Atlanta and Miami last year. But more often than not, they are right. So, if you really want to be optimistic you have two options. First, just block out all evidence to the contrary and go on with the same blind optimism that has allowed Mike Brown to operate year after year. Or, you can think really hard, look at both sides of the issue, and try to conclude the Bengals will win 10 games this year. If you take the latter option, it will be very difficult to honestly arrive at a positive conclusion.