Of all that's being written about the Bengals' recent on- and off-field success lately, the most backward viewpoint has to be that which Peter King expressed in his recent MMQB:
I think if the season was seven weeks long and I had to vote today, my Executive of the Year would be Mike Brown. It's not just the Palmer trade. It's sticking to his guns on draft day and waiting, waiting, waiting for Andy Dalton at the 34th overall pick.
Let's be clear: the end result of the team's quarterback controversy, in essentially replacing Carson Palmer with Andy Dalton and a first-round pick (or possibly even swapping a second-rounder for a first-rounder as well), is undeniably beneficial, certainly for the Bengals' future and maybe even present chances. However -- as King himself somehow points out without realizing the larger truth -- Mike Brown did not plan for any of this to happen, or at the very least, did not sufficiently attempt to execute a plan.
Dalton could have very well been taken before the Bengals' picked him at 34; most draft projectors expected him to go earlier. For Mike Brown, assuming he had fully moved past Carson and was convinced that Dalton would be a future franchise-quarterback, to sit back and merely hope Dalton slid down to him shows laziness, stupidity or a combination of the two. He simply does not deserve accolades for failing to trade up and take Dalton if he really did strongly wish to land him as his future quarterback. A good result does not justify the process used to achieve it; it merely proves how lucky Mikey Boy was in gaining the quarterback he wanted despite his lack of proactivity.
The same applies to the Carson Palmer trade. Mikey Boy fully intended on keeping Palmer for the duration of his contract while foregoing decent compensation in a trade, not because he thought such a decision benefited the team but because it satisfied his ego and pride. That a team, the Raiders, came along with enough desperation for a quarterback to offer as great a package as they did is in no way a testament to Mikey Boy's plan. Once again, it is merely a case of Mikey Boy winning the lottery--his misguided process of trading Carson Palmer (or lack thereof) fortunately yielded the result of a team overpaying for Palmer.
This isn't to take all of the credit away from Brown. He did, after all, have to accurately evaluate Dalton in taking him, and he did have to swallow his pride in trading Palmer away when offered a package even he couldn't refuse. But, Executive of the Year? I don't think so.
Mikey Boy is still cheap. He is still stubborn, and vain, and selfish, and insistent on a mom-and-pop style of organizational operations that simply cannot compete with most other NFL teams. The Bengals still have just one permanent scout; they still are the northernmost team to not have an indoor practice facility. As this whole scenario has shown, the Bengals' decision-making and planning are still misguided and half-heatedly gone about, even during the rare times when Mikey Boy benefits from luck and some momentary sense.
So, I hope that Bengals fans and the media are not fooled by the events of the past six months, that they continue to notice and call Mike Brown out on his incompetence. We are making progress in altering, if only a little, how the Bengals' organization runs; the blackout streak (even if it soon ends next month) is sending a message that Mikey Boy must listen to. Only if our dissatisfaction continues, and only if we continue applying vocal and financial pressure to him, will he change, and will the Bengals have more time periods like the one we're in now than those we've mostly been experiencing since 1990. When you see Dalton and the Bengals' additional first rounder pick playing in the years to come, think not of the exceptional moves Mike Brown somehow pulled off, but of how much the Bengals could constantly accomplish if their leader relied on sound reasoning and hard work rather than luck and laziness.