The Cincinnati Bengals never change their stripes. And there's comfort in that.
Maybe you were expecting something big last week when the trade deadline arrived, with the Bengals reeling from an injury to A.J. Green and their defense getting ripped for more than 1,100 yards over their last two games. But the Bengals chose to do ... nothing.
You were expecting something different?
The last trade the Bengals made at the deadline was in 2011, when they sent Carson Palmer to the Raiders. They got nothing immediate in return, just future draft picks.
You have to go all the way back to 1972 to find the last time the Bengals made a trade involving players. They sent Fred Willis and Paul Robinson to the Oilers and got Ron Pritchard and Charlie Joiner in return.
For the next 46 seasons? Nothing. It's the Bengal way.
They could've used a cornerback at last week's deadline. The Arizona Cardinals, privately, could have been talked into parting with Patrick Peterson. He went ... nowhere. The Bengals could have used a wide receiver. Golden Tate was there for the taking, and the Philadelphia Eagles took him. All it cost the Eagles was a third-round draft pick. But the Bengals took a pass. That's how they roll.
The Washington Redskins traded for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Eli Apple wound up in New Orleans. The Detroit Lions got run-stuffing defensive lineman Damon Harrison from the New York Giants for a fifth-round pick.
The Bengals? No comings and goings.
There's a belief in some NFL front offices that if a team is willing to trade a player at midseason, there may something wrong with the player. Or maybe the team doing the trading knows it's going to be a struggle to make the playoffs, so they look to begin building for the next season. Look at the Oakland Raiders. Somehow they got a first-round pick out of the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for Amari Cooper. The Eagles put their Super Bowl season into overdrive by trading for running back Jay Ajayi last season at the deadline. It cost them just a fifth-round draft pick.
Here are a list of the Bengals' fifth-round draft picks since 2014: AJ McCarron (2014); C.J. Uzomah (2015); Christian Westerman (2016); Jake Elliott and J.J. Dielman (2017); and Darius Phillips, Andre Brown and Rod Taylor (2018). Would you have traded any of those guys for Ajayi if your team was in need of a running back?
The Bengals always have valued cost control over all other scenarios. And that largely means they won't trade draft picks, who in the lower rounds invariably make the minimum salary, for veterans who come with a large salary (and cap) number. Mike Brown has never, and most likely never will, mortgage the team's future for whatever immediate benefit a trade may bring. Like the Bengals in 2018 or not, the script didn't change.
How long will Green be out? A "few games" is what the line was. Tell me Tate couldn't have helped keep Andy Dalton and the offense afloat for some games -- and it doesn't just stop there.
Dez Bryant has been available since the start of the season. He's on the "back nine," sure. But with Green down and Tyler Boyd sure to draw an inordinate amount of attention from opposing defenses for "a few games," who do the Bengals have to line up across from Boyd now? Here's a hint: No one who would make an opposing defensive coordinator sweat.
Bryant will be at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. Unfortunately, he'll be playing for the Saints. All it cost them was a one-year deal at a salary affordable for any of the 32 teams in the NFL.
This order of business shouldn't shock anyone who has followed the Bengals over the last five decades. The philosophy has served them well in a few seasons. Far too few. The Bengals want to win. But they want to win their way. It runs concurrent to the way the usual contenders do business.
The Bengals enter the second half of their season at 5-3. It will take a miracle for them to avoid 5-4 after this Sunday. New Orleans, even before signing Bryant, was the best team in the entire league. After that, the Bengals face a Baltimore team that is reeling but still very much alive and coming off two weeks of rest. Baltimore's defense is one of the top three in the NFL. It's not a stretch to see the Bengals at 5-5 after the next two games, having to win five of the next six to make the playoffs.
Would it have been any different if the Bengals were more proactive at midseason than they've been in their history? Would the outlook have been any different than what it is now? The real problem is we'll never know.
Now on to some other things that have been cascading in my head like an ocean wave ...
- Everyone at the University of Cincinnati was so excited about their new arena officially opening and Ohio State being in town to play the Bearcats last night. And why not? Spending $90 million dollars in refurbishing should buy some buzz. But does it seem that no one outside of the UC fan base is that jazzed about what the UC football team is doing. It's not that big of a stretch to see UC standing at 12-1, being conference regular-season and AAC championship game winners and playing in a New Year's Six bowl game. It has been a terrific turnaround for Luke Fickell's program. But where's the buzz? I host talk shows regularly on 700 WLW and have yet to take a call this year from anyone wanting to discuss UC football. Very strange ...
- I have zero problems with the latest CFB playoff rankings, released on Tuesday. Alabama and Clemson are the two best teams in the country. Notre Dame is unbeaten and Michigan is playing the best football right now. Georgia will be fine until the team plays Alabama in the SEC championship game. So even if Ohio State runs the table, which would include beating Michigan, I don't think the Buckeyes will make the playoffs unless something drastic happens. A one-loss Georgia team and a one-loss Oklahoma team is more attractive right now than Ohio State. ...
- I'm still wary of Notre Dame's game against Syracuse at Yankee Stadium. That's going to be a tough "out" for the Irish. And a one-loss Notre Dame team wouldn't be as attractive as a one-loss SEC team. But what do I know? ...
- Prediction: Kentucky runs the table now, will finish 10-2 and play Jan. 1 in the Citrus Bowl. There, I said it. ...
- As I write this, the Cleveland Cavaliers have won exactly one game in their first 10. If this is the best Dan Gilbert can do, he should sell the team. Having it happen once, after LeBron James left a decade ago, is one thing. Having it happen a second time is disgraceful. My guess is Gilbert will sell the Jack Casino in downtown Cincinnati before selling the Cavs. He will have to sell one or the other, IMHO, if and when Ohio legalizes gambling on sports teams. And it's coming. ...
- Indirectly, this is a gift from God for Sam Darnold. He's too young and inexperienced to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He deserved a year to learn the system and let his body mature. ...
- Glad the Reds found a new pitching coach. Nice to see he's from the Milwaukee Brewers, who did pretty well this year. But now they need to get the guy some pitching. My No. 1 target for the Reds is Patrick Corbin. He has been with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He's left handed and, in baseball dollars, he'll be reasonably affordable. My guess is a yearly salary close to $20 million will get Corbin to sign. He made a little over $8 million in 2018, the final year before he became free agent eligible. How realistic would it be to think the Reds could entice Corbin to sign? Well, read this and then tell me.
- I don't think it was a knockout blow, but Duke's complete demolishing of Kentucky in that basketball game Tuesday night was a bit of a shock. Sounds like John Calipari was a bit shocked himself. ...
The USA was introduced to David Bowie 43 years ago today. He made his television debut singing this:
The show was the CBS primetime hit "Cher." She had split with Sonny Bono in marriage and performance. Bowie wrote this song but gave co-writing credit to John Lennon. Lennon's only contribution is screaming the word "Fame" throughout the song. Bowie was in the New York City Electric Ladyland Studio and had been hanging out with Lennon at some of the NYC clubs. When he told Lennon he was going to the studio the next day, Lennon showed up. There, too, was session guitarist Carlos Alomar, who came up with the guitar riff for this song. Lennon helped the recording along by playing rhythm.
After this appearance with Cher, the song rocketed to No. 1 in the USA. Later, Bowie would sing this song on the TV show "Soul Train," one of the few white performers to ever appear on that show. (Reportedly Bowie was so nervous about that, he got drunk before going in front of the cameras.)