THEY’RE MAD IN CINCY. Why is Marvin Lewis still the head coach of the Bengals? All I see is another underachieving team. Similar to the Carson Palmer-Chad Ochocinco era but with a new cast of characters. When will Bengals brass realize Lewis has clearly hit his ceiling?
Good question. I don’t think that’s going to be now. I think that club owner Mike Brown is more comfortable with Marvin Lewis than he has been with any of the previous coaches under his watch. I have heard nothing to suggest Brown’s opinion is going to change. If you figure out a way for Andy Dalton to play a competent game in January, I think that might go quite a ways to helping Marvin Lewis be a better head coach.
ON KLUWE AND THE VIKINGS. I certainly won’t be alone in bringing up this startling omission. Most of us fans are far too removed from the intricacies of the NFL inner circles to be able to form a reasonable opinion regarding Chris Kluwe’s trustworthiness relating to his incendiary accusations. I respect that you are unwilling to offer knee jerk reactions on such serious matters, but your loyal readers deserve to hear from you on this topic. What say you, good sir?
—Mike, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Here’s what I say: a few days ago on Twitter when the story broke, I praised Kluwe for his willingness to be so critical of people who he had worked so closely with. I also said in response to a question on Twitter, that in my experience, Kluwe had been nothing but truthful with me, to the best of my knowledge. In an explosive case like this, I do regret not addressing this in the column Monday. I should have. What I would have said is that I applaud Kluwe for writing what he wrote, and I also applaud the Vikings for appointing two independent authorities to investigate it. I do not know if the special teams coach, Mike Priefer, said those exact comments. I do not know Priefer. I do know Kluwe. And as I said, I’ve never known Kluwe to lie. So let’s let the light of truth shine on this story, and see what happens.
TOO MUCH, TOO EARLY FOR RUSSELL WILSON? Nobody rides a bandwagon like the sports media. Seattle had the 26th-rated passing team in the NFL, yet all we hear from the media is that Russell Wilson is the next coming of Drew Brees. I don’t get it. He might be good some day, but already anointing him a top QB is way too much. Why is it the media gets fixated on a guy and everyone piles on? What am I missing? You will probably say stats are not everything, but then you will point out a QB rating or a stat when talking about another QB. Help me out.
I would point out that Russell Wilson, in the span of eight days last January, went to the East Coast to play two postseason games. In those two games, he engineered a victory over Washington and on the strength of his 360-yard performance the following week at Atlanta, had the Seahawks one minute from the NFC Championship Game, with a lead, before the Seattle defense gave it up and lost to the Falcons. He beat Tom Brady head-to-head last year. He quarterbacked his team this year to a 13-3 record, while having some mediocre days. I don’t know how much more a quarterback can do in the first two years of his professional career than Russell Wilson has done to this point. I can’t read the future, but if Russell Wilson were a stock right now, he’d be Twitter. That’s not to say that he might not crash and burn. But I don’t believe there’s much evidence to suggest that he’s been anything other than one of the true rising stars of the NFL in his first two years.
IT’S ONLY FIVE YARDS. For years I’ve been completely baffled by one fixed item of “conventional wisdom” in the NFL, and that is the unwritten rule that a team should always take a timeout when the play clock is running down, rather than incur a 5-yard delay of game penalty. The ultimate example of this nonsense, in my view, took place Sunday when the 49ers took a time out on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. For the life of me, I cannot understand the thinking here! I would much rather preserve a precious timeout—an option which could determine the outcome of a game, and often does —and accept a 5-yard penalty instead of sacrificing the timeout because the play clock has expired. I must be an idiot because no football coach has ever agreed with me, at least insofar as I can tell from watching football at the college and pro level for many years now. Is there any logic to my position, or am I totally out of my mind?
You, and many similar e-mailers on Monday, are brilliant. I would much rather save a timeout early in the 3rd quarter and take the delay of game penalty. In fact, I would probably do that two or three times in the first and third quarters, rather than do what San Francisco and Kansas City did over the weekend. I think it is almost a reflex action by teams fearful of the reaction if the quarterback simply takes the five-yard flag while walking to the sidelines to discuss what play should be called next.