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Steelers Fans: Settle Down, Your Competition's Not Up To Snuff

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For those of you who have read my writing for 6 months, a year, two years, or even two and a half years in some cases, you know that I tend to shy away from A) discussing other teams incessantly B) making bold predictions about outcomes and C) spending too much time on 'moral' issues, unless they pertain to Art or Dan Rooney and the incredibly high bar they've set when it comes to class, dignity, and doing things the right way in the National Football League.

But, I just can't help. The Browns Monday Night Football Game, while sure, still inconsequential, provided all the right ingredients for what I've been talking about as a potential calamity for the Browns come the regular season. And in the case of the Bengals, well, in case you hadn't already heard, they re-signed Chris Henry! Yes, the guy who was suspended 8 games last year, got in trouble once again this past April, and will find himself suspended again for 4 games to start the 2008 season. This, of course, comes after Marvin Lewis wagged his finger and said that Henry would be nothing more than a headache to a team that's trying to become more cohesive, more consistent, and more importantly, more competitive year in and year out in the AFC North.

Let's start with the Bengals, though I basically summed it all up in the preceeding paragraph. But let's at least rehash what Marvin Lewis had to say late in July about Chris Henry:

"I'm not interested," Lewis told reporters Tuesday, before the team's annual preseason luncheon. "I don't think it would be productive for our football team. You have to be a productive part to be an NFL player, and there's responsibilities to being an NFL player. It's a privilege, it's not a right. There's a lot that comes with being an NFL football player."

Really Marvin? Because last time I checked, theBengals recently acquired Henry, despite the fact that'd he miss the first quarter of the season serving a 4-game suspension, handed down by the NFL for violating the Leagu'es 'Conduct' Policy.

Anyway, not surprisingly, as you can see in the link above, Bengals fans are disappointed in the move. It signals to them, or at least so it seems to me upon first cursory glance at their reaction, that there's no hope. The Bengals are, and will continue to be, dysfunctional. That's too bad considering that Carson Palmer, TJ Houshmanzadeh, and a few others are truly unique talents, and actually fairly good consistent competitors and team players.

But they can't pull it all together, and I see no reason why anybody would fear that Cincinatti wins more than 8 games. At the first sight of adversitity. Ocho Cinco et. al will mouth off and that will be that. Unless they come out of the right side of the close games theyre' in, things are going to unravel quickly, and I can't see any way that the Marvin Lewis regime does not come to a close after 2008 if they in fact finish with a losing record and miss the playoffs for the 3rd consecutive year.

As for the Browns? Well, I don't want to recap what happened on Monday NIght Football too extensivel. And for several reason. 1) It's preaseason, as some of you have so adeptly mentioned when reading my pontifications about the bigger picture. Y'all have a point. 2) You guys have covered the happenings of said  MNF game between Cleveland and the depfeding Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in several comments secions on the main page.

So, without wasting anybody's time, let me just say that what I hinted at as a possible problem is coming to frution right before their Brown Eyes.  I wrote:

As I said when the schedule came out, I'll be fascinated watching the Browns' early season unfold. Their schedule is packed with tough games in September and October, and I can't wait to see if they hit the panic button and bench Derek Anderson uncessarily if they're off to a rocky start.

Well, here we are three weeks into the preseason schedule and Derek Anderson has a mild conussion. And from the looks of the box score Mr. Brady Quinn played just fine. To the tune of 7-12, 100+ yards, 1 TD, 0 INT fine.

 Let the media circus begin with the so-called challenger Cleveland  Browns. Does Derek Anderson sell magazines and newspapers? Didn't think so. Brady Quinn does though, and it's my humble opinion that we will see the media do their best to disrupt/bump their way into the thought process of the front brass in Cleveland.

Is that absurd to assume? Maybe, maybe not. But one things' bugging me, despite my wholehearted willingness to admire Browns GM Phil Savage and the commendable job he's done rolling the dice and finding ways to acquire the pieces that he thinks are necessary to win now, I'm just not convinced that the Browns wont make an impetous decision here with Anderson and Quinn,

You never know. Quinn could be that guy who takes them over the top. But I don't think so, at least not in 2008, and likely in 2009 either. The Browns window might slip a bit while Quinn's adjusting. Again, never know.

But what that Monday NIght Football game told me, and what the Chris Henry re-signing incident told me, is that our chief competitors (we'll leave the Ravens out of it for now)  are structuarally flawed franchises. It's entirely possible that either, or both, I suppose, puts together magical season, and all is well. But more likely than not, both teams will have some setbacks that require collective mental fortitude. Good teams, teams that go places, teams that are able to stay on course for 16 games, not just rely on talent for one game: these are the teams I'd be afraid of in our division. Read: Jacksonville, Tennessee.

Is it just me, or are the teams we compete for automatic playoff berths against just not that type of team that can consistently be relied upon to deliver, stay togther, and work hard regardless of small setbacks and bumps in the road.