It's early in the season but a feeling as if it's too late to save it pervades Bengaldom. A Zeitgeist of apathy and approaching death lingers over everything. Why? I am not sure. But it sure seems to me that finally, after resisting it for almost a decade, Marvin & Carson have succumb to Bengalization. The stench is upon them and once it seeps in it cannot be flushed out. Allow me to illustrate via quotes:
From a David Fleming article (probably in 2004) about Palmer, when he drove to Indy with Chad to watch the Peyton-to-Harrison clinic:
"They don't have anything we don't have," Palmer said of Manning and Harrison. "We just need to keep working. They're the best, but we can be that good too."
Or the fire he brought in the huddle after a mistake:
Palmer exploded out of the huddle, ramming his face mask into Johnson's and snarling, "Hey … Hey man! What the f- are you doing? Don't you ever do that again. You understand me?"
Now after consecutive losses against the easier part of our schedule we get:
We just have to continue to work better, come up with a couple new wrinkles here or there, throw a defense for a loop, but just be more efficient and make sure everybody’s doing the right thing and step in the right direction, move in the right direction.
And what about Marvin? Well, he's never been the most firey personality around, but when he first arrived he brought with him a fresh attitude:
"This is about hard work," said Lewis, the son of a western Pennsylvania steel worker. "Places don't lose. People win and lose. I have a plan."
Marvin's and his grand plan, like every other Bengals employee with a grand plan before him, eventually got Mike Brown'd. It just took longer. Sure, Marvin has the occasional outburst where he rails against the creeping mediocrity, but only when he has a national audience paying attention like on his Hard Knocks "Be A Fuckin' Pro!" speech - in the preseason for chrissakes. But these days all we're treated to in the face of a season dwindling away after only 6 weeks is this:
I think we had a good week last week of taking a look at us and looking at things that we need to improve at and improve on and build on the things that we’ve been doing right. I thought it was a good week.
I don’t know where we are compared to last year. We’re not as good as we want to be. Probably a little bit ahead of where we were last year but we’re just not where we want to be.
It's simply resignation. Carson & Marvin have fought against the current too long. They have lost the will to continue. They have capitulated. Places still lose if they're named Cincinnati and Carson's dreams of being Peyton faded long ago.
This will happen to anyone under the employ of Mike Brown if they stick around long enough. It's why fresh meat matters so much. As far as I can tell, we have exactly two awesome specimens right now:
1) Mike Zimmer: who delightfully lit into Bobby Petrino in one of the more hilariously bold public statements in a long time and proved that if anyone can resist the malaise of the Bengals, it will likely be him.
2) Geno Atkins: a rookie with a relentless motor that talks shit on twitter as if being a Bengals means something.
But really, anyone on the defensive side of the ball seems a little fresh under the aura of Zim.
Unless a miracle happens and Marvin wrests authority from Mike Brown in contract negotiations, the only real hope we have is Mike Zimmer bullying his way into that same power upon Marvin's exit. At any rate, it appears this offseason will be more interesting than the indifferent effort the Bengals put on the field each week this season.