Hobson's Choice: Tough measures, tough times

Q: What do you think of the firings of Bresnahan and Hunley? Seems to be a bit of a raw deal with the injuries on defense and the money spent on the offense. But I thought that when the Baltimore staff became available, there would be moves in Cincy. Perhaps there were chemistry, work ethic, and philosophy/style issues?
--Bill H., Berwyn, PA

BILL: Tough. Both good, decent men. More than anything it seemed to be part of Marvin's plan to reinvigorate what he fears has become a stale team. But it sounds like he knows he's got to do more than coaching changes.

I'm not sure why it didn't work with Chuck. Marvin's philosophy seemed to mesh better with him than with Leslie Frazier.

The pillaging of Bresnahan's first draft in '05 that cost the Bengals David Pollack and Odell Thurman, injuries to free agents Nate Webster and Sam Adams, and the inability at times of players to digest what they were being given all seemed to be factors. You saw how much better a reduced cast played with a simpler scheme the last eight games.

Yeah, you have to look at talent. I think injuries hid the fact they didn't do quite enough in the offseason to upgrade. Not that they could have done much more, but maybe something between Adalius Thomas and Kenderick Allen.

Although, in the wake of Webster, Adams and the early struggles of Dexter Jackson, you can see why the Bengals would be a little gun shy of free agency. But they have to be like the guy chasing the big whale and keep looking for two more pass rushers and a middle backer.

But they were exactly right in not going crazy over Joey Porter.

I thought the work ethic was terrific. You had guys selling out in miserable wet and cold weather against people that hurt you, like Steven Jackson and Jamal Lewis. Chemistry was an issue of course. When you go into a game with three of your four linebackers not even veterans of the past training camp, well, of course.

I think Hunley's firing will get the players' attention. They know he's close with Marvin and they go way back. That couldn't have been an easy meeting, could it?

But I think Marvin knows there is going to be a heavy price to get rid of the staleness. And I give Marvin credit for that. I couldn't think of the word for the last year, and he hit it right on the head after Sunday's game.

Stale.

Exactly.

The cover of the media guide should be a day-old sandwich.

Make him a wordsmith for Bengals.com.

The fact he came up with the word tells me he still has his head in this thing and has a plan how to get it back where it was two years ago.

Which means he knows there has to be changes on offense as well. And since the coaches are staying, then Lewis must be talking about scheme and technique and philosophy, and all of that is good.

Clearly these are qualified coaches with top 10 offensive success. Now they have to find the spark of the old days and translate it into the red zone and points.


Q: I am tired of hearing about Chad Johnson. Now wanting more money, is it time to trade him or should we let the team be all about Chad and give him more money?
--Mark, Middletown, OH

MARK: As Omega pledge Chip Diller proclaimed for the ages in Animal House: "Remain calm."

NFL Network's Adam Schefter set the Internet on fire Friday with a report that Chad wants to be traded if he's not paid following the expected extension of T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

It is an emotional time of year, even for sources, and things get said that wouldn't be said in the cold, harsh light of February. From what can be gathered, no ultimatums have been delivered to the club and there seem to be no waves at this juncture.

First of all, Bengals president Mike Brown isn't in the habit of trading his best players. Particularly one that is signed through 2011. With all due respect to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, trading a top player for a lesser guy just to get rid of him makes absolutely no sense.

Well, they say, what if he causes problems?

What bigger problem could there be for a receiver-oriented offense than missing your most explosive one, plus being unable to help your defense because you blew up the salary cap to the tune of about $5-7 million to take the salary cap hit of a trade?

That doesn't make you a better team, either.

As we said in a story last week on Chad's state of mind returning to Miami for the season finale, any kind of trade talk is cap fantasy. Largely because the Bengals have ripped up his contract twice in the last four years and given him a total of about $20 million up front. The last time was in April of 2006, a six-year extension worth north of $6 million per year.

It sounds like his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, did a hell of a job getting that last deal. Like I say, if I needed a contract to extend my life, Rosenhaus is my man. He calls himself "The Shark," but he was Houdini on that one because he made the deal despite four years left on the original and made them disappear.

So it would be hard to see lightning hitting twice so quickly and the Bengals just aren't inclined to take a cap hit like that.

Plus, you get the sense from Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis that they want him here and want it to work. Brown, who believes Chad and Isaac Curtis are the two best receivers in franchise history, said flat out in November Johnson is going nowhere.

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