Just when you think there might be a small chance Andre Smith won’t be a complete bust, stories like this from Bengals.com are published.
Every Bengal fan knows that Smith has struggled with weight (and being a good player in general). However, he’s also had to deal with a chronic foot injury.
“After getting carted off the field, it is believed to be the same foot he broke three days into his rookie season, an injury that prevented him playing full time until the last three games,” Bengals.com editor Geoff Hobson wrote about Wednesday’s practice. “The injury took Smith out of the first 10 games of last season and when he had surgery on it back in January it wiped out all the spring drills and training camp for him.”
So, enter Dennis Roland at right tackle for this week’s unwinnable game at Indianapolis who somehow is even worse than Smith. And seriously, what kind of schedule from hell is this? This season, the Bengals will have played the defending Super Bowl champions (Saints), defending Super Bowl runner-up (Colts), the Patriots, the Falcons, the Jets, as well as the Steelers and Ravens twice. And what do you want to bet one of those teams wins the Super Bowl this year?
I’m not sure if there is any way to define it, but I wonder if it’s the most-difficult schedule in NFL history. Even the games that looked “easy” coming into the season have been anything but (and probably will be anything but). I’m talking about the Browns, the Bucs and the Chiefs. OK, the Bengals do play the Bills, but other than that it’s a brutal slate.
That’s the penalty for being defending champs in your division, but shouldn’t there be a waiver for such treatment if you get your asses handed to you in the first round of the playoffs at home by a wildcard team?
Anyway, even with the tough schedule, there needs to be serious changes after this season. Since the Bengals will never hire a general manager from the outside (you know, one that would stay away from stupid picks like Andre Smith when there were warning signs all over the place – and this is not “hindsight is 20/20,” I said it at the time) there needs to be changes made to the coaching staff.
Definitely offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski needs to go, and I also think it’s time to pull the plug on Marvin Lewis. He’s in the final year of his contract and it will be interesting to see what Mike Brown decides to do. Lewis is by far the best coach Brown has hired, but Lewis is a bad coach (thanks go out to Dave Shula, Bruce Coslet and Dick LeBeau [who is a great defensive coordinator but not a head coach] for making that possible). Maybe Brown has finally realized that Lewis isn’t very good and he can find better. Then again, maybe he will say that his team is only a year removed from winning the division and Lewis deserves another year since the schedule was so daunting this season. A lot will depend on how the team finishes this year, even though it really shouldn’t matter how they play in meaningless games. knowing this team’s history, they probably will finish somewhat strong, providing nothing more than fool’s gold while hurting their draft position. Some Bengals fans even have a term for it: “The Dead Cat Bounce.”
As for Chad Ochocinco, he had a well-publicized meltdown on Monday night in the loss to the Steelers and what else is new. It was clear he was far out of control and Lewis was never going to be able to reel him in when he exploded at halftime of the playoff loss to the Steelers five years ago (the game when Carson Palmer blew his knee out). There were reports Chad punched a coach, perhaps even Lewis. Who knows what really happened, but something did. And from that day it was clear Marvin was never going to be able to control Chad.
So, it wasn’t surprising in the least to see what happened Monday night. You haven’t been paying attention if any of that surprised you. Even Lewis blew it off after the game. Most coaches would have been fuming.
At least left tackle Andrew Whitworth put Chad in his place during the game. Basically told him, “Shut the hell up, go line up and play ball” while giving him a shove in the right direction. Whitworth is one of the few bright spots on that offensive line – both in terms of his play and his leadership.