Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It Doesn't Take A Genius To Fix The Bengals

I'm with Bobby Knight, Bill Parcells would be a successful coach in any sport. You take a 50-year-old Parcells, hand him the Los Angeles Clippers, and I'd bet anything they'd be a consistent winner in the NBA within three years. I don't care how green Parcells is, he knows how to push buttons and motivate professional athletes.

I have another one...

Allow Mark Cuban to buy the Pirates--sorry George Grande, the Buc-O's--and they immediately become a credible franchise, and not just because of his deep pockets. Cuban would acquire as much information as possible, hire the right people and spend money wisely (i.e., scouting and drafting - as opposed to paying Matt Morris $10 million to be an observer).

But wait, there's more...

In the words of Sam Jackson in Jurassic Park, "Hold on to your butts":

Billy Beane, Bengals GM.

In the words of Mayor Goldie Wilson, "I like the sound of that."

Before going forward, ask yourself one question: Would the Bengals be better off with Billy Beane in charge of player personnel over the next decade? I say YES - unequivocally. As a Bengals diehard, and one who is completely out of faith (not unlike a young Natalie Imbruglia, actually), this would be the happiest news on the Bengals front in some time (aside from the glorious word that Chris Henry was back in stripes).

Anyway, here me out: Whether you're familiar with the idea of Moneyball or not, I'm guessing you at least know that the Oakland A's have been a winning organization since the turn of the century. And you probably know that Oakland has remained competitive despite minimal resources. The reason? Billy Beane.

Now, baseball obviously doesn't operate the same way as football, but Beane's been able to keep up with the big boys, essentially, because of a proactive approach - something the Bengals don't know anything about. Throughout his tenure, Beane has avoided an aging roster with shrewd (and often unpopular) moves. More often than not, though, Beane's moves work out for the best.

If you're not young, you're old.

Case in point: Willie Anderson, Rudi Johnson and Deltha O'Neal, three humans who the Bengals released a few days ago. That is, three former Pro Bowlers who the Bengals released a few days ago.

I'm angry.

Johnson last earned a trip to Honolulu after the '04 season; Anderson and O'Neal, '05.

In football, three years is an eternity.

It was after the '05 season, I think, when the organization decided to give Anderson a sizable extension and let Eric Steinbach walk the following year. That was questionable then, and to be viewed as a monumental screw-up now. Loyalty should never be rewarded when a salary cap is involved. Ever. Are we clear?

Anyway, the O-Line is a mess...and Billy Beane wouldn't have let that happen. No way.

As for Rudi Johnson, he steadily declined after the '05 season - which was also about the same time the O-Line saw it's dominating days become a thing of the past. Hmmmm? Was he ever that good? Or did he benefit from an explosive passing game and top notch line? Questions, man. Questions.

Either way, the Bengals stupidly waited on King Fragile (Chris Perry), and didn't draft a RB until 2007, when they selected Kenny Irons, a stud. Problem is, Irons injured his knee and the Bengals were right back at square one, with an even slower--and now injury prone--Rudi Johnson. Admittedly, the Bengals were dealt some bad luck, but why not operate like the Jaguars and draft RBs even when they're loaded at the position? Fact: RBs break down, and you always need a solid backup plan. You'd think Mike Brown would know this stuff. You'd think.

And look, even if you chalk up the Bengals' RB situation before April as matter of bad luck, isn't it unfathomable that they neglected the area entirely in the '08 draft? I still can't get over this. Let's see: Rudi Johnson was shot; Kenny Irons wasn't recovering from surgery; Chris Perry has never been able to stay healthy. That being the case, how do you not address maybe the weakest position group on the team? Flat out inexcusable.

Again, Billy Beane, regardless of what he did or didn't know about football, would've taken one look at the situation and added some fresh legs to the mix.

As for O'Neal, Marvin Lewis has been unhappy with his attitude since the start of '06, and while they drafted John Joseph and Leon Hall in consecutive first rounds, it wasn't enough. How else do you explain David Jones, an undrafted free agent, being the nickelback in '08?

In the words of Alan Cutler, this is Em--barrrr--a--ssing.

You might think I'm nuts, but I say Billy Beane would transform the Bengals into a semi-regular winner. Sure, it'll never happen, but that doesn't mean I'm not right.


-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)