Briefly, a final word on the first installment of Hard Knocks.
I said it before, and I'll say it again: Hard Knocks was yet another chance for the Bengals front office to publicly state their goal is to win a Super Bowl. Once again, they failed. During Mike Brown's downright depressing welcome speech to the team, he stated that last year was an embarrassment, and that our fans 'let us hear about it'. He then went on to say the following about this season:
"We have a shot at a good season. A successful, winning season. The kind of season we all want and expect...the place for us to answer back is on the playing field. And from there our critics will hear us loud and clear".
Good to know it's on the playing field Mike, thanks.
Mike seems more concerned about 'silencing those horrible people that complain after another dismal season' than concentrating on winning a Super Bowl. Like a 9-7 season is good enough. 9-7 accomplishes all of Mike's goals: winning season, successful (in his mind), and just enough to quell most of the intense criticisms. And it won't get you in the playoffs in the AFC.
Once again, the front office (via Hard Knocks) had a chance to come across as a competent, well-run organization. Hell, they could have even faked it. Once again, they failed.
- Katie Blackburn sounding completely ridiculous while talking about contract negotiations with Andre Smith.
- Jim Lippincott's absurd, downright insulting moment with fullback JD Runnels, cutting him at 5:30am before he even knew what was going on. Jeremi Johnson is almost fifteen pounds overweight, and he stays (because of Mike Brown, reportedly). JD Runnels is cut because of ability, and that's the only reason we cut people (very odd, weird comment from Lippincott). It showed the Bengals in a very poor light, especially when compared to past seasons of Hard Knocks. And it was one area that Marvin Lewis did not address when he talked about Hard Knocks this past week. He addressed Mike Brown leading the team meeting, but he did not discuss this scene.
- Mike Brown getting puzzled looks and eye rolls when asking about switching a defensive lineman to tight end. Plus, it was Mike Brown looking like a professor talking to his students, not seated around a conference table like Jerry Jones and the Cowboys last season.
That being said, I thought Marvin Lewis came across as a great communicator, and a great leader. Much like Bill Belichick, I think he will be an outstanding head coach somewhere else, someday in the future. In a well-built organization, with a strong front office and leadership, it's clear he will be a fantastic coach. And Hard Knocks reinforced that point for me.
The assistant coaches and players were also bright spots in the episode. And that reinforces my belief that you could have Tom Brady and the entire Patriots squad over here, and it wouldn't matter. As long as Mike, Katie, and family are in charge...and setting the bar of mediocrity...things will NEVER change around here.
The only slight disappointment from a player standpoint was Roy Williams, who came off as a little 'soft' when discussing Oklahoma drills. If you are a safety and have the rep of being a hard hitting safety, you should love popping wide receivers in the mouth. Not talk about taking it easy.
There are four episodes to go. The coaches, players, and story lines were strong in the first episode. The front office proved why they have earned the worst record in all four major sports since 1991.
Let's hope we have more to talk about in Week 2.