There have been no visible changes since the Bengals season ended in the Wild Card Game for the fourth straight year 18 days ago in Indianapolis as the coaching staff and quarterback depth chart has stayed intact.
But head coach Marvin Lewis scanned the South’s practice Wednesday during the Reese’s Senior Bowl week and said despite the sheen of status quo, it has been anything but at Paul Brown Stadium.
He pointed to Bengals president Mike Brown’s aggressive posture in the young offseason as the club eyes shoring up several positions in the draft, as well as free agency.
“I think everyone is committed to that. It’s a different feel than where we have been. It’s not a status quo,” Lewis said. “There has not been a status quo conversation or ‘Oh, we’ll be OK, we’ll just get these guys back.’ No, no, no, that’s bull. We got to be better.
“(Brown is) the one leading the charge. He doesn’t want to hear we will be better when we get these guys back. No, we need to get better. He knows we need to get better. He’s pushing people to identify players that will make us a better football team in free agency.”
“I don’t know who they would be,” Lewis said. “Come in right away and play, not just a starter, but above the starting level. They can make everyone else above them better. You’ve got to be careful what you say with big free agent. That term doesn’t fit me very well. The guy has to be a fit to what we are doing. We don’t want to take a step sideways to try to immerse someone into what we are doing. This guy has to be an accent, an upgrade to the things you are doing.”
“I think we feel we have some holes to fill, some free agents at positions for us where they are a critical part of our depth so we have to look at parallel paths as well,” Lewis said. “I think the way we are set up to go through it and look at it is let’s go pick off whatever positions we can pick up and consider the rest through the draft. But don’t go in and say we are just going to focus on this. Let’s go get the best players that fit us in whatever ways we have agreed upon early on in March and finish the process in May.”
“We’ve got to raise the level of competitiveness to compete and make critical plays in critical moments which allow you to win the critical games all the time, consistently,” Lewis said. “Your great players play great all the time in big games and your other players play as good as they can play.
Good news, bad news. The good news is that Mike Brown is spearheading an “aggressive” offseason campaign to help improve the team. The bad news is that Mike Brown is spearheading an “aggressive” offseason campaign to help improve the team. On one hand, you gotta love that the entire organization is making a concerted effort to improve and improve now. I think everyone on board realizes that with a couple key additions via the draft and free agency, the Bengals could be poised to make some real noise next season. But with a quarterback and a head coach that are effectively in the last year of their respective deals, the window for this particular Bengals squad to win right now is closing fast.
On the other hand, any true Bengals fan knows that when Mike Brown takes the car out for a spin, things can get a little dicey. The Bengals aren’t really major players in free agency. Never have been. I’d love for the Bengals to be that organization that brings in big name guys year in and year out, but that hasn’t always worked out. Remember 2010 anyone?
On paper, that team was no slouch. Carson, Ced Benson, T.O., Ocho, Dahani Jones, Tank Johnson. All big names with loads of talent, but for one reason or another that team just couldn’t get the job done. As a matter of fact, that team was God awful. In the past (a la 2010), grabbing the big name guy like a T.O. or a Cedric Benson might look sexy on paper, but in reality they probably weren’t a good fit and the Bengals ultimately ended up paying the price. So I guess I’m a little encouraged hearing Marvin say that the search is on for free agents that fit the mold of this team and are in line with what the Bengals are trying to do. Even as hapless as this organization can be at times, you have to think that Brown and Lewis have learned from their past mistakes and will take what they’ve learned to ink themselves a couple of quality free agents. Say what you want about Marvin and all his struggles, but just about the best thing that he’s been able to do on a consistent basis is bring talent here to Cincinnati. That’s largely because Mike Brown has more or less given Marvin free reign of the personnel decisions, so here’s to hoping that doesn’t change too much. Mike Brown and a totalitarian approach in free agency is like a ten year old with a loaded twelve gauge. He should know better, but that has disaster written all over it.