Happy Halloween! Instead of the normal chat between two teams who face off this week, Josh Kirkendall from Cincy Jungle and Kevin Ferguson of the Sidelion Report
The top sports headlines of the day
Both have had their starting quarterbacks shut down for the season, fans are dumping their tickets, and general managers are getting fired (well Matt Millen was; the Bengals still don't have a GM).
Enjoy this special scary Behind Enemy Lines feature.
Kevin Ferguson (Lions blogger): Yeah, you flip on sports talk radio on a Sunday around 4:15 pm and you'll hear the constant and pervading calls that say the same thing 10 different ways: "The Lions won't do anything until Ford sells the team. Fire the owner," blah blah blah. I don't think Ford is a bad guy. You certainly can't call him cheap. The Lions spend and spend and spend.
The problem is that he doesn't know how to win; he doesn't know how to evaluate the people that are supposed to run the nuts and bolts football operation. Pre-Millen, the fans weren't happy with one round and out in the playoffs. They wanted more. The hot names on the docket were Bobby Ross and Dan Reeves. Mr. Ford paid big money for Ross. Then Millen was the hot name, he wasn't going to accept anything but excellence, he blew up the team and it blew up in his face. I think Mr. Ford's biggest mistake in the Millen era was letting him hire yet another coach in Marinelli. It was a bad hire. Really the only good hires have been Mooch, Jauron and Martz.
And even that didn't work out; the team pulls the trigger too soon on good guys and yet still lets Marinelli sink this ship at 0-7. As an owner you have to find someone who knows more about the sport than you and let them do their thing. As with any investment that nets $185 million even if you're a failure, I don't think they're inclined to sell it anytime soon, so this is who we are working with for the foreseeable future.
Josh Kirkendall (Bengals blogger): The most noticeable aspect with Mike Brown isn't his business sense - though one could argue that in order to have a successful business the key isn't cost cutting, rather a quality product. However, for a time Mike Brown was an apprentice, under his father Paul Brown, designing the business aspects of the newest team in the AFL. Fundamentally responsible for how the game is played today, Paul Brown's brilliance came with building championship football teams through the draft; while his son Mike, took to the business side of things.
Remaining steadfast without the background of scouting talent like his father, or the modesty of incorporating personnel that specialize in talent evaluations, Mike failed to fill the void left after his father's death; believing he could judge talent equal to his father. I believe that Mike Brown is truly over his head, without the experience his father had judging talent and building championship-caliber football teams.
Sportz: Do you guys think your head coaches will keep their jobs after the season?
Kevin: Hell no. He better not. Ten wins in three years? Show him the door and a bus schedule. Pack his crap in a box and leave it on the curb. All he does is talk. He believes in pounding the rock and he preaches fundamentals, yet we're the worst team in the league defensively and we haven't been able to get the run going, therefore we can't get the pass going. They look more like they're smoking the rock than pounding it.
Josh: Art Modell
Mike Brown saw all this, carelessly devoting himself to such a loyalty that it harms basic elements in which the team is conducted when he took over; firing Sam Wyche a season later (ironically, a similar scenario created when Modell fired his father). It took David Shula's 19-52 record through four full seasons, plus seven games into the fifth, before he was fired. Bruce Coslet took over, remained for three full seasons, quitting after the third game into the following season, compiling a 21-39 record. Dick LeBeau took over for 45 games through the 2002 season, compiling a 12-33 record, finally fired after a 2-14 season that gained national headlines, protests, boycotts, and letters from several popular alumni. You would think that more firings would occur for the past 18 years.
Finally, without having consecutive in-season coaching changes, Mike Brown sought a coach outside the organization for a fresh start. Lewis, through the first five full seasons, had one of the best records by a Bengals head coach in franchise history; compiling a 42-38 record before entering this season. However, trends be damned, in their past 27 games, the Bengals won seven, dating back to the final three regular season games in 2006.
While Lewis' Bengals hardly show any measure of anticipating good things beyond this season, Lewis led a stretch in which he became only the third Bengals head coach with a winning record (until this season). Mike Browns' steadfast loyalty to his coaches, because of what he witnessed with his father, along with Lewis' successes not achieved with any other coach during Mike Brown's reign, all accumulates to the likeliness that Marvin Lewis will be the Bengals head coach in 2009.
Sportz: Do you think you will win a game at all this season (and who do you see it coming against)?
Josh: Even though the Bengals lost to the New York Jets 26-14, the feeling that the Bengals would finish the season winless wasn't realistic. In the hopes the attention would force the NFL's hand into intervening with the Bengals front office, some played with the idea for fun; like the general human element to stare at a car wreck on the highway. After losing to the Steelers and the Texans, outscored by a combined 57 points, the realization of a winless season suddenly turns so sobering that when you gloss through the remaining schedule, no game appears winnable with all things fair. Perhaps the "keep it close, hope to get lucky" ideology might award the Bengals at some point.
November seems hopeless with the Jaguars, Eagles, Steelers and Ravens on tap. December starts with the Colts and Redskins before easing off to the Browns and Chiefs. The last two are possible, but I suspect that luck will be necessary.
Kevin: They could maybe knock off the Vikings or the Bucs at Ford Field. Actually one of my blog topics was about this ... It's supposed to be IMPOSSIBLE to go 0-16. This is an NFL of parity and everyone comes to the middle; even when Marty's 2-14 team was playing, the games were tight and competitive.
This team has been getting blown out, going an entire season without a win is a legitimate possibility. Even the last couple "close" ones, they were putting up points in junk minutes, catching teams falling asleep because they were so far ahead. Look at that Green Bay game! The Lions made it look like they were digging their heels in the dirt and clawing their way back to take the lead by one single point and the Pack just snapped back into the game and pummeled them at will. A 60-yard touchdown pass here, interception for another touchdown there. The Lions lack talent. They just aren't that good and they can't hold their own on the field.
Sportz: I think I already know the answer to this, but is this just a one- or two-year thing or is this something that has and will linger?
Kevin: Well... getting rid of Roy Williams and robbing the Cowboys blind really helps. Had Roy stuck around, half the cap would be tied up in Roy, Redding, Calvin Johnson, and the new kid you're going to have to sign first or second overall. Redding is grossly overpaid for the performance he's putting on the field; you could probably say that about a lot of the guys on the team.
Josh: Based on the talent on this team, I'm not sure how to answer this. Without our franchise quarterback, and an aging offensive line that could be rebuilt through next year's draft, the Bengals could, realistically, rebound nicely next season; even based on the fact they haven't won yet this season. On the other hand, there's no real evidence why a fan should suggest that the team would rebound after dismal "rebuilding" seasons for nearly two decades.
Sportz: I know there are no quick fixes, but what do you think your organization needs to do to get back on track?
Josh: As for the team, they need to rebuild the offensive line with the highest of priorities. In terms of the front office, well, there's plenty to go around. Most importantly this team needs football guys in the front office; from a general manager, to a scouting department.
Kevin: Draft well. Get a coaching staff that is competent and not completely over their head. It's not insanely complicated. If you draft poorly, as we have, then you'll play poorly, as we have.
Sportz: What is the lowest point you've seen your franchise?
Josh: The season the Bengals went 2-14 was pretty bad. However, 2008 is turning out to rank among it. There's no game on the schedule that the Bengals can point to and say, "we'll win this one." Marvin Lewis is being shredded from all angles and nearly all entities; fans, media, etc. Record aside; it's still pretty bad; not as disturbingly hopeless as 2002 was. Lewis truly saved the franchise when he was hired; though things seem comparatively bleak again.
Sportz: Everyone know your teams are winless and assume everybody and everything sucks. Name a few things that are going well for your teams that people may be overlooking?
Josh: There's some good coming from the younger players. Keith Rivers, before breaking his jaw, turned out to be as advertised. Pat Sims started the season a bit late, but he's a disruption; ranging from clogging holes at defensive tackle, to penetrating the backfield forcing running backs to make them cut before hitting the line of scrimmage. Cedric Benson has more yards than Chad Johnson or T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the past two games combined. Defense shows brilliance as much as they show disaster. However, those big plays are so frequent, that the plays the Bengals defend well are overshadowed (and with reason). The previous statement does not apply to games against Houston or the Steelers.
Kevin: The Black and Silver uniforms are pretty snappy! Oh, and we still have Jason Hanson.
Sportz: If the Bengals and Lions met on a neutral field, who would win the game?
Kevin: On paper the Bengals aren't that bad. I think Chad Johnson would have his way with our poor secondary, especially if they are working with a healthy Carson Palmer. I suppose perhaps Rudi Johnson would have something to prove. Is this with current rosters or 'on paper'? Can I have Kitna? I'll take the ugly helmets. At least they've been to the playoffs in the last few years.
Josh: Knowing how the Lions and Bengals are this season, I wouldn't be surprised if they tied, 0-0.
Sportz: And there you go. Two diehard fans who are very honest about what is going on with their beloved teams. I wish both their teams good luck and hopefully they can turn their seasons around and have a few positives.
Thanks again to Josh Kirkendall and Kevin Ferguson for coming in and dropping knowledge on the NFL's two winless teams.
Behind Enemy Lines: Bengals and Lions Bloggers Vent Their Frustrations originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Fri, 31 Oct 2008 10:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.