Tag:Mike Brown
Posted on: January 25, 2011 9:39 am

Hot Routes 1.25.11: Still more talk on Cutler

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Perhaps one reason why NFL players and some media ripped Jay Cutler to shreds for not playing most of the second half of Sunday’s game: he comes across as awfully aloof and doesn’t allow anyone to know him. Maybe even his fellow NFL players.
  • NFL.com’s Albert Breer breaks the story that Bears QB Todd Collins – you might know him better as Caleb Hanie’s warmup act – suffered a shoulder injury Sunday and he might need surgery. Meaning his 16-year career is very much in jeopardy.
  • Titans RB Stafon Johnson is suing his alma mater, USC, for negligence. He alleges that the weightlifting accident that crushed his larynx and threatened his NFL career was the result of carelessness by former assistant strength coach Jamie Yancher.
  • The Broncos have hired former Saints DB coach Dennis Allen to be their new defensive coordinator. Allen was considered a candidate for the Eagles defensive coordinator position as well.

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Posted on: January 23, 2011 11:05 am

Not surprisingly, Bengals are losing fans

Cincinnati fans are not happy with their team (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Coming off a disastrous news conference in which Cincinnati owner Mike Brown announced Marvin Lewis would return as head coach, the Cincinnati Enquirer did an informal survey to see how many fans would renew their Bengals season tickets.

According to the Enquirer , about 2/3 of the 176 who responded will NOT re-up their deals.

It could be that the economy continues to wreak havoc on a fan’s entertainment budget, but the Bengals 4-12 record in 2010 – and the impression Brown gave at his presser that he was satisfied with the way his team is doing business – certainly doesn’t help.

Three years ago, the Bengals had a waiting list for season tickets. Now, they’re not selling out games and likely won’t fulfill their quota of season passes.

Wrote fans Dick and Carol Jones, season ticket holders since 1970, in an e-mail to the paper: "Like many others, I suppose that we have been waiting and hoping to see a sign of change. The press conference last week further showed that no change is going to be forthcoming. We do know of one change. We will not be spending any more money to support those who care so little about their fans and what should be their obligations to the City and County which have supported this team."

Even my buddy Mo Egger – who hosts a daily radio show on ESPN 1530 and who’s as big a Cincinnati sports fan as anybody in the city – is giving up his tickets.

"The PBS experience has devolved as well," Egger told the paper. "The years of losing have seen the people I've looked forward to seeing in section 306 slowly cancel their tickets, and they've often been replaced by empty green seats. PBS has the character and ambience of my grandfather's old tool shed."

Though the Bengals released a statement to the Enquirer saying, in effect, that the 2011 season would be better, I think fans are simply tired of Brown and the way he runs the team. It’s hard to blame them.

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Posted on: January 20, 2011 10:06 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2011 11:30 pm

What will become of the Bengals offense?

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

UPDATE (11:28 p.m.):
Well, maybe Bratkowski isn't as safe as Lewis led us to believe. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy, Marvin Lewis and former Vikings coach Brad Childress were spotted having dinner together tonight.

An interesting twist, eh?


We mentioned it earlier in Hot Routes, but I wanted to bring up once again the assumption that Bengals coach Marvin Lewis will NOT terminate offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski – who’s been in the position for more than a decade, longer than Lewis has been head coach.

C. Benson might not return to Cincinnati next season if offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski is back. (Quick aside about Bratkowski: aside from game day and from events that demand you cover your legs, you never see the guy in pants. He ALWAYS wears shorts. Twenty degrees outside at practice? Bratkowski wears shorts. Figure skating at Fountain Square in the snow? Bratkowski wears shorts. An expedition to the North Pole? Shorts.)

The Bengals fans seem fed up with Bratkowski, who put together some wonderful offenses in the middle of this decade (Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Rudi Johnson, etc.) but lately has not had the winning formula. That’s with the exception of last season when Cincinnati became a run-based offense that, perhaps not coincidentally, won the AFC North.

And this season was brutal. Palmer has completely regressed. Benson was overlooked at times. Ochocinco had the worst season of his career. So, why does it appear that Lewis will keep Bratkowski when it seems like the offensive coordinator’s tenure has grown rather stale?

Um, it’s kind of hard to tell. Read this quote and see if you can figure it out.

“(Fans) are clamoring for heads and I understand that. Right now at this point I’m not ready to give them heads yet and we’ll see what happens,” Lewis said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I understand the frustration. If we lop some heads maybe we’ll get better but maybe we wouldn’t but that’s what I’m looking at. Minimal might make things better and more productive. Making major changes rather than an overhaul of the system. A new system is harder than an overhaul and looking how we do it.”

Maybe part of the reason Lewis won’t fire Bratkowski is because owner Mike Brown won’t allow it. Other than that, it’s hard to figure why Lewis would keep his OC (Bratkowski being a nice guy and an extremely quotable coach probably don’t count as reasons).

ESPECIALLY, when you consider that RB Cedric Benson might not want to re-sign with the team if Bratkowski stays (Benson was irked that the team shifted away from that successful run-heavy offense and became more of a passing attack this season).

Said Lewis: “Ced’s passion and energy will make us a great football team again and I don’t want to curtail that and you have to take the bad with the good. I opened up the season talking that it was going to be difficult for Ced with all the attention going to the receivers and that he was going to have to hang through this.”

But one reason Benson might reconsider. Lewis plans to use fullbacks more often this season – Chris Pressley and Fui Vakapuna likely will compete for the starting spot that Jeremi Johnson used to hold.

And what about Chad Ochocinco? Well, if Lewis keeps firing so-called shots at his temperamental WR like this – “No one was talking about him. He couldn’t stand that,” Lewis said regarding some of Ochocinco’s latest Twitter offerings. “You want them to talk about you,
go win football games.” – he shouldn’t expect Ochocinco to want to return.

Of course, maybe that would be best for all anyway.

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Posted on: January 5, 2011 12:06 am

The (many) problems of the Bengals

M. Lewis got a contract extension. Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Bengals, it seems, had a chance to make some fans happy today, to bring a little light to the disappointment they’ve felt all season long – and in reality, for most of the past two decades – and to give them a chance to feel good again. And maybe give them enough confidence to buy tickets for next year.

OK, that’s probably not true. After another disappointing season – and a number of blackouts and empty luxury boxes toward the end of the year – it would have been a tough play to make the Bengals fan base smile.

But the chance was there. Even if owner Mike Brown wanted to keep Marvin Lewis – who owns a 60-67-1 record in his eight seasons as head coach – Brown could have soothed the sore feelings that have overrun the banks of the Ohio River.

He could have done so in three ways:

1) He could have announced he was hiring a GM and enhancing his player personnel staff.

2) He could have announced he was building an indoor practice facility.

3) He could have made sure he and his coach, at the news conference announcing Lewis’ return, didn’t come off so aloof and condescending.

Alas, none of that happened. Why would they? Despite the fact the Bengals have been to the playoffs only twice since Mike Brown took over as team owner in 1991, nothing ever changes in Cincinnati. Yet, the Brown family makes enormous amounts of money (we assume this, anyway) while putting a team that’s gone a combined 115-204 in the past 20 seasons on the field.

Here’s what really happened at the presser:

1) Brown is the GM, and he feels like he and his staff have done a good job with free agents and draft picks. Said Brown at the presser:

“The scouting thing is another criticism that rises up when we don’t do well. If you look at the last 10 years, we rank 10th for the number of games played by players we drafted. I don’t apologize for our scouting. It’s an easy target. But if you look at the real facts, you’ll see it different.”

Yeah, but if those players aren’t any good, that statistic makes absolutely no sense. Honestly, I’m not sure the statistic makes much sense either way.

2) All Brown said was that he was thinking about it.

Said Brown: “Marvin has a desire to have a practice facility. I have a desire, but not as keen. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a desire to do it. The timing is important. Right now, we’re faced with major issues in the National Football League. Those are at the front of our agenda. When we get through that, then we’ll have to consider this issue.

“Some of this is perception. We worked in the cold weather. We played in the cold weather. It didn’t seem to hurt us any to practice in the cold weather. We played pretty well in it. But that’s the way it is trending. The fact we have been left behind with what others are doing, whether that makes them better than us because they have an indoor facility is a question. But it’s coming.”

I understand: Paul Brown, Mike’s father, was old-school. No water at practice. Practice in zero degree weather. Like segregation in football, that’s not the way it’s done anymore. The time has come to evolve.

Still, it's good to know Brown is somewhat keen about the issue (though not as much as others).

3) Lewis has a habit of treating reporters with condescension. At times, he’s charming and funny. Most of the time, he’s paranoid and unhelpful. Maybe the fans like that. Or maybe the fans are tired of the act.

Like when TV anchor Brad Johansen, a respected member of the media and the team’s radio play-by-play announcer started off a question with something like, “Maybe I missed this, but how long is the new deal?”

And Lewis, with a snap and a smug smile said: “We didn’t say that, Brad.”

Later, Johansen tried again. Said Brown: “You keep asking, and the answer isn’t going to change. No.”

Why be snarky? Why be an ass about it?

Especially when the Bengals OFFICIAL website wrote that it was a two-year deal.

Listen, I’ve talked with Mike Brown off the record, and I think he’s a nice man. And he’s awfully loyal to his employees, for better or for worse. But for him to act like he cares whether the team wins is an insult to the fans who give him their money. Because if he cared, he would change. But he’s content. So he doesn’t.

I’m sure he’d rather win than lose. But above all else, he’d rather have the money than spend it on a scouting department and an indoor facility. Hey, it’s his right. He’s the owner of the team.

But at some point, the fans will stop buying tickets and merchandise and that money will begin to run dry.

And then, maybe just maybe we’ll see how much Brown thinks the team should change. You know, if he happens to be keen on the idea.

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Posted on: December 25, 2010 7:53 pm

Marvin Lewis has hope ... for some reason

It doesn't seem to make sense that Marvin Lewis would return as Cincinnati's coach for another season (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Considering his contract expires at the end of the season, it’s hard to see why coach Marvin Lewis would return for more Bengals madness. It appears there’s been no movement to give him another contract, anyway.

Since Lewis was hired before the 2003 season, his teams have amassed a 58-65-1 record with just two playoff appearances (the Bengals were bounced in the first round both times). Plus, owner Mike Brown continues to hamstring any coach by serving as his own GM, though that strategy has only given Cincinnati two postseason appearances since Paul Brown died in 1991.

The marriage seems fit for divorce, and, as Lewis would say, that’s a good thing.

But then there’s this comment he made Friday after he was asked if he felt like this was the end of his time in Cincinnati.

“I don’t think so. That’s not the plan,” told reporters, via the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Which comes as a bit of a surprise. No. 1: why would Lewis want to return, assuming he could coach elsewhere (though not necessarily as a head coach)? No. 2: it seems like Lewis’ teachings have gotten stale in the Bengals locker room, and why wouldn’t the Brown family want to give somebody else a chance to coach the team?

I still don’t believe Lewis will be with the team next season. For both parties, a contract extension just doesn’t make any sense. Sort of like Lewis’ comments from Friday.

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Posted on: December 8, 2010 11:22 am

Brown to Bengals fans: 'You are stuck with me'

Posted by Will Brinson

There's a tiny little bright light at the near end of the tunnel that Bengals fans are walking sadly down. Unfortunately, it's very small and it's the hope that when Marvin Lewis' contract is up, the team will clean house and try to rebuild things (once again).

Based on the letter that Mike Brown sent to Bengals' fans, though, it won't be with a competent GM-type person running the show, because Brown ain't going anywhere -- the following is an excerpt from a letter, via 1530 The Homer, Brown wrote in response to a season ticket holder's individual inquiry as to why his team stinks.
I cannot give you the response I suspect you would most like to hear. I'm afraid you are stuck with me in my present role, and a general manager brought in from the outside is not in the plans. I accept that your criticism is sincere, and I wish you well personally. We are working as hard as we can to return to and surpass the contending status we had as recently as last season."

Mike Brown
Ugh. The thought of being beholden to a guy who runs a franchise like ... well, is there a business to compare the Bengals to? Does any particular business refuse to spend money on someone to actually run the business properly while also refusing to spend the money to increase the value of the franchise instead relying on subsidies from other businesses? And is there any business that ONLY hires ex-convicts? Or one that's lasted as long as Brown's Bengals have without any success?

Because if there is, I'd freaking love a job there. But being a fan of a professional sports franchise that works this way? Eh, not so much. Which is why Bengals fans should absolutely be terrified at the prospect of Brown not improving things even if/when he clears out Lewis, Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens in the offseason.

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Posted on: October 9, 2010 10:06 am
Edited on: October 9, 2010 10:06 am

Marvin Lewis' future is unknown

Marvin Lewis is in the final year of his five-year contract, and his future is unknown at this point (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It seems likely that most of the Bengals would want to keep playing for coach Marvin Lewis. So, when QB Carson Palmer tells Yahoo! Sports, “He’s done so much to change the atmosphere around here, and we really value him as a coach. I’m not really thinking about Marvin’s contract situation – I’m pretty much just focused on football – but it would be great if they got something done,” that’s what you’d expect him or any of his teammates to say.

Say what you will about Lewis, but his players, for the most part, like him very much.

Lewis is in the final year of his five-year contract with the team. He’s been with the Bengals since 2003, and entering Sunday’s game, he’s led them to a 58-57 record and two AFC North division titles.

But, according to Michael Silver of Y! Sports, Lewis and owner Mike Brown have not engaged in any serious contract extension talks.

You might wonder why, but if you think about it, this scenario is not that outlandish for a couple different reasons.

1) Lewis might not want to stay. The Bengals organization, while sometimes it makes horrendous personnel decisions (for example, giving tons of money to non-factors like Antonio Bryant), is not an especially generous organization.

Brown refuses to build a practice bubble (Cincinnati is the northern-most team without such a building), and during November and December, where it gets cold outside in Cincinnati, the team often has to bus 30-45 minutes into the suburbs to practice at an indoor soccer complex. Considering the Bengals have a sweetheart deal from Hamilton County on Paul Brown Stadium, one could consider this football owner malpractice.

2) Brown might have too much power. He’s the owner, so technically this is allowed. But Brown also refuses to hire a general manager – he actually pays himself a GM bonus – and he makes many of the personnel decisions. While his father, Paul Brown, was a legendary coach and owner, the Bengals have made only two playoff appearances since Paul Brown died in 1991. What does that tell you?

Plus, Brown has very publically overruled his coach. Again, he’s the owner, so he can do what he wants. But when Brown brought back the late Chris Henry in 2008, Lewis already had objected to the move. Brown did it anyway, emasculating Lewis to the locker room.

3) Lewis is popular with the players, but overall, his tenure has been only moderately successful (if you compare him with the Bengals coaches that came before him, though, Lewis has been like Vince Lombardi). While Brown is unfailingly loyal to his coaches – he’s let the worst of the worst coach out their contracts – he might feel he can do better than Lewis if he has to pay somebody $4-5 million a year. If Lewis walks – and he very well could – the Bengals have one of the most-respected up-and-coming assistant coaches in the league in defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Chances of Lewis staying at this point (in my mind): 50-50, maybe 60-40 that he stays.

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Posted on: September 3, 2010 12:25 am

Ranking the NFL owners

Posted by Andy Benoit

Everybody everywhere is always ranking quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. And, earlier this week, the Sporting News ranked all 32 head coaches. So why not rank owners?A. Davis (US Presswire)

Yahoo! Sports’ Michael Silver – one of the best football writers in America – published Part 1 of his annual NFL owners rankings. Silver offers extensive analysis on each owner. It’s absolutely worth reading the entire article. Here are some of the highlights:

--Silver ranks Al Davis No. 32 and absolutely rips the Raiders organization. You may recall that Silver was the one who first reported the Tom Cable-Randy Hanson incident, and that the Raiders denied Silver a press pass to a game later that year. (We’re not implying that Silver has an axe to grind – we’re pointing out that the Raiders will hate him even more after this.)

--An anonymous NFC owner gave Silver a golden quote on Bengals owner Mike Brown (whom Silver ranks 31st): “He doesn’t have a conscience. He’s all about revenue-sharing – he comes right out and says, ‘I just want some of your money.’ He’s worn out his welcome with 99 percent of that room. He came out and said that new stadiums are the worst thing to happen to the NFL because they raised the bar for other clubs. Unbelievable.”

--On Dolphins owner Stephen Ross (ranked 25th), Silver writes, “After I broke the news in April that Miami general manager Jeff Ireland had asked Dez Bryant in a pre-draft interview if the receiver’s mother was a prostitute – a great day for the Dolphins’ brand – I thought Ross might finally overcome his fear of executive vice president Bill Parcells’ shadow and assert his authority. But Ross, from what I can tell, did little more than throw out hollow rhetoric, which is one of his specialties.”

--On Falcons owner Arthur Blank (ranked 20th): “In owner circles Blank is regarded as a man with a huge sense of self – and in a room full of rich folks, that’s saying something.”

Silver only published the first part of his rankings (teams 32-18). We’ll provide the final rundown here, but it’s highly recommended that you read the entire article (Silver’s blunt analysis is fantastic).

32. Oakland Raiders – Al Davis
31. Cincinnati Bengals – Mike Brown
30. Detroit Lions – William Clay Ford (Bill Ford Jr.)
29. Cleveland Browns – Randy Lerner
28. Chicago Bears – Virginia McCaskey (George McCaskey/Michael McCaskey)
27. Arizona Cardinals – Bill Bidwill (Michael Bidwill)
26. Buffalo Bills – Ralph Wilson
25. Miami Dolphins – Stephen Ross
24. Tennessee Titans – Bud Adams
23. Jacksonville Jaguars – Wayne Weaver
22. New Orleans Saints – Tom Benson (Rita LeBlanc Benson)
21. Seattle Seahawks – Paul Allen
20. Atlanta Falcons – Arthur Blank
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Bryan, Joel and Ed Glazer
18. St. Louis Rams – Stan Kroenke
17. Denver Broncos – Pat Bowlen

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com