Frustration with the lack of activity from the Bengals is reaching a level I haven’t seen since Mike Brown’s press conference following the 2010 season announcing Marvin Lewis’ new contract. Fans see the mountain of cash that the Bengals are sitting on (the tallest in the league) then look at the short list of transactions made by the team while other teams make move after move. They cannot meld the two. Now is their time for action, and the Bengals have done nothing but re-sign a half dozen players they already had, and it just isn’t good enough.
But the Bengals were very clear in the weeks leading up to free agency that this is exactly the course of action they intended. “We are going to focus on keeping our own.” How many times did you read those words in January and February? More than a few.
What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.
The front office does not seem to hear that the fans have grown beyond the “We’re just glad to be here” attitude to the postseason. Three trips in four years will do that. We want to boast about a win. They have yet to deliver one in the Mike Brown era, now in it’s 23rd year of spreading
joy hope indigestion.
A jilted fan base wants upgrades. Some clamor for the big names, but most would be happy with some mid-level additions to the roster. So far those calls pointing out their failure to advance in the postseason have fallen on inattentive ears. “Every year the plan is to re-sign our own. That plan isn’t working. It isn’t giving us the wins we want. It’s time to try something else.” I’ve heard this a number of times this week.
Is it really not working?
Think back to the beginning of the Marvin Lewis era. The roster was a mess. People wondered openly if the team could beat The Sisters Of The Poor. Within three years, they had rebuilt the team into a squad that won 11 games and made the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
But they made a crucial mistake. They took shortcuts with guys with character issues. The success flamed out quickly.
So the front office has remade the roster a second time. This time, however, they put a priority of character as well as talent. With two outstanding drafts, supplemented by underwhelming (but mostly solid) free agent signings, the team has transformed from a group that mustered only 4 wins in 2008 and 2010 to a team that is gaining respect nationally and is considered a playoff contender in 2013.
Maybe we aren’t listening either.
Our angst may begin to subside once the team starts to sign a few guys. And they will. Once they are able to re-sign Andre Smith (unless his agent continues to overvalue his services) and the team knows exactly how much they have left to spend, the action could heat up quickly. Adam Jones should come soon as well..
Once those two are back in the fold, the needs are pretty simple. A linebacker (whom I still think will end up being Maualuga for the SAM spot). A safety. A kick returner. A running back would be good. And possibly a wide receiver. They don’t need to be sexy signings, just solid. Filling these spots with veterans who can contribute will set up the team to notch a third outstanding draft in a row because they can take almost any position at any point in the draft based on who is still there.
Knock me now if you will. But in six weeks, I believe we will feel very differently than we do now about where the Bengals stand going in to 2013.