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SPF T.I. Poll (Week 19, Part 4): Down By The River

Posted: Jan 13, 2008

12. Cincinnati Bengals and 13. St. Louis Rams - Our final Poll spots are held by two teams that have a connection via the river culture from which they arose.  Like railroad tracks in towns across the south, rivers often appear to be a cultural divide, but they instead serve as to energize the surrounding communities they intersect.

St Louis and Cincinnati's reach stretches into our region, into Kentucky, Arkansas, West Tennessee and beyond.  However, these cities often see themselves as part of the Midwest leading them to a more conservative presentation to the world at large.

This cultural duality is wreaking havoc on their football teams.

They both enjoy great fan bases.  Both have great offensive talent at a time when that asset is at a premium in the NFL.  However, both are also saddled with cheap, clueless, and uncommitted owners.

The Bengals get a slight nod because they have more in place.  (That could change if the Ravens decide to make a play for HC Marvin Lewis, though).  However, Lewis has already fired his DC so the Bengals coaching staff is in flux.

This Cincy Enquirer article uncovers how thin the Bengals scouting department is.  Not only do they have the least number of non-clerical employees (6) amongst NFL scouting departments, two of the six have the last name of Tobin (head of personnel ,Duke, and his father, Bill) and Brown (owner Mike's two sons).

Owner Mike Brown says, "with our scouts, there isn't one of them whose judgment I don't respect."  What does anyone expect him to say with this sort of incestual relationship running through the department.

The article attempts to give props to this "small, but mighty" department by emphasizing their record of having a high number of their draft picks on their roster.  This is a completely false statistic that only matters if the team is winning.  On a losing team, like the Bengals, it is an indictment of this department's poor record.

As we mentioned in Part 3 of this post, the NFL landscape has changed and winning on the cheap isn't easy.  Even the best of the small market teams have at least 10 people to the Bengals' 6.

If this is possible, the Rams are in even a worse situation.

SPF firmly believes that Scott Linehan is in over his head in St Louis and does not deserve another year.  The hiring of Mike Martz as San Fran's new OC will only make matters worse for the Rams.  Martz will enjoy beating his former team who he will face twice next season.

The Rams are a disaster.  Why are they keeping Linehan?  According to this St Louis Post Dispatch piece, the Rams upper management have Linehan by the short hairs and will force him to make changes in the same way they did when they forced Vermeil to hire Mike Martz as his OC.  Linehan has already agreed to give up playcalling to his new OC.

Again, SPF asks why are they keeping Linehan at all?  He lost the support of his veterans.  His supposed strength (offense) has not worked out to the point that he must hire a new OC and turn over playcalling to him.  Linehan has proven that he is a failure on the two critical head coaching attributes - leadership and X's and O's.

The only hope for the Rams and Linehan would be to pry away Al Saunders from Washington to serve as Linehan's OC.  

The Rams are now firmly behind the rest of their division which is already one of the weakest in the NFL.

The Bengals could be as well in the AFC North.  How embarrassing would it be for owner Mike Brown to allow his coach to go to a division rival?  Brown is like an Al Davis in training.

Both these teams are implementing a losing formula - midwestern thrift plus a Southern fan base equals a difficult future marked by mediocrity at best.  Their loyal fans deserve much, much more.

related tags

North Carolina,
New Orleans,
Southern Pro Football,

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