It's probably no longer news to any Bengals fans except for ones living under a rock that Brat will return for a 10th year as Bengals OC. But because I have been living under a rock recently, it is news to me. So I will write about it. And we will all lose.
First, the only thing you need to know about the return of Brat is that Hob felt the need to slip the announcement in an otherwise unremarkable column - consisting solely of bullet points, no less - entitled "Dating Game". Hob treated the announcement of Brat's return like some sort of embarrassing late Friday afternoon press release where everyone involved hopes it goes unnoticed before the weekend hits and people stop caring.
Well I cared. And I didn't miss it. In the 4th bullet point:
On Monday, offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said he was back for his 10th season and on Tuesday defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer signed up for three more years.
That's literally it. All the time Hob gave it. Couple of things:
- Brat actually got rehired BEFORE we signed Zimmer if you caught that.
- Hob can't even give Brat's return it's own sentence. He has to include the Zimmer hiring within the very same sentence announcing Brat's return to cushion the blow.
Clearly, the Bengals know this move will be poorly received by fans. I'd hazard a guess they probably even know that it is a poor football decision to bring him back as well. So why are they doing it?
Because to Mike Brown, it's personal, not business. Brat's a long tenured employee, likely a big yes man, someone Mikey likes, and so he stays. Regardless of how mediocre to awful he might be (I can never really decide - more on this later). That's just how things are done here.
At this point, I have nothing else to add that relates to my above point. Instead, I'm just going to throw some stats about the Bengals offense under Brat at you.
First, I saw this line in Sly's latest FJM style takedown of Hobspin:
(talking about the O-line) the Bengals head into the offseason looking to improve a blossoming group that came out of nowhere to lead them to their first top 10 rushing finish since record-setting running back Corey Dillon led an assault to No. 2 in the league in 2000.
First of all, a better measure than total yards rushing, which Hob uses, is Football Outsiders DVOA measure which ranked the Bengals 13th this year. That's right, we fell outside the top 10 despite our emphasis on rushing and unbalanced lines.
Second, Corey's 2000 "assault" also came with a 4-12 record and the league's 2nd worst pass offense and their rush offense was really more like 13th best if you take a better measure than total rushing yards (see table below). As should be clear, measuring a team's rushing offense by total yards can be horribly misleading. In 2000, that was indicator that a) we sucked at passing so b) we ran a whole lot instead and c) we sucked as a team anyway.
Also, here is the rank of our offense under Brat's entire tenure. I include total offensive rank, passing offense rank, rushing offense rank and the variance (consistency) of the overall offense.
- Things got better on offense as we got more talented.
- Things have gotten worse since 2007.
- The passing game drove the offensive improvement (and it's subsequent fall) much more so than the rushing game. I actually regressed passing rank and rushing rank against total offensive rank just in case my eyes were deceiving me. They weren't. It concluded that passing drove what offensive success we have ever had.
- The variance is alarming. Week to week performance is all over the map, even when we were a great offense we still were in the bottom half of consistency except for 2007. It seems to me this lack of consistency probably reflects poor offensive coaching. That talent was there during this time, so why wasn't that more obvious week to week?
- Basically with Carson starting, we have been a top 10 offense until 2008. Of course, even before he got hurt in 2008, the trend was bad. With him back in 2009, we did not rebound even close to the top 10. Maybe it's a lack of talent everywhere else, but again, the downward trend began in 2007.
- Regardless, it seems safe to say that Brat is at best a mediocre coordinator (he looks as good as the talent on his offense) or at worst an awful coordinator that designs stale offenses that minimize the offense's strength and players' chances to succeed. Regardless, mediocre performance should not be rewarded with a decade of employment. Embarrassing. And the Bengals know it. They just don't care.
I think point 4 probably is where statistics best capture how bad Brat is. Lots of inconsistency whether he has talent or not. For comparison, take Zim on defense. He's been here 2 years. First year he started his program, there was clear improvement, but lots of inconsistency (ranked 26th). Let's give him the benefit of the doubt since it was his first year.
Year 2? The defense ranked 3rd most consistent in the NFL. And improved overall as well.