Sunday Paper (Year 4, Volume L)
I've sung the praises of Marvin Lewis before.
But it's really impressive what he's doing with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Unlikely as it may be, they're right back in the hunt in the AFC Wild Card race.
And they're not the only potential wild card team I've got my eye on this winter.
Let's just assume the Jets do not claim an AFC wild card. I know, I know, settle down. Just a little devil's advocate here.
I certainly hope if they miss out it's to the likes of the Bengals and the Colts and not the Steelers. And in the NFC, it's hard not to root for the Redskins. (You may or may not remember I was a bigger proponent of Robert Griffin III than Andrew Luck...though Luck has certainly been better as a pro so far than I expected.)
I wrote not long ago that it's hard to root against the Colts with the situation they're facing with Chuck Pagano. But it's also hard, in my opinion, to root against the Bengals.
Every time I've seen video/audio of Marvin Lewis - in practice, on the sidelines of games, in post-game press conferences - that man coaches his butt off. I suppose that doesn't make him all that different than other NFL coaches - but he certainly seems to work hard.
In years past, I'm not sure all of that hard work was rewarded by the players on the field - overrated, big names that weren't producing for him. Yet he still managed to milk some success out of them. Since some of those names departed - Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, to name just a couple - Lewis has been able to maintain - if not surpass - that success.
I'm not sure there's a head coach as the playoffs approach who has worked as hard as Lewis for longer who deserves playoff success more.
If his Bengals can make their way into January, I'll be rooting for them.
*Earlier this week I wrote about the Jets' QB situation and I claimed Mark Sanchez may have gotten the rawest deal of any QB in Jets history. I'm not sure I explained that all too well. Other Jets quarterbacks have been disappointing too - but I feel like at least those teams surrounded the quarterback with a couple of receivers or a solid enough running game to prove how disappointing they were. The simple fact is the team that has been built around Sanchez is not setting him up for any success. I'm somewhat surprised Rex Ryan decided to start him again today..It will be interesting to see what will happen when the team returns home in two weeks.
*You know I've often written about how poor a judge I am of Hall of Fame credentials. A couple of things brought this to mind this week, and it's not whether or not the steroid-aided careers belong in the Hall of Fame. It's the campaigns surfacing for the likes of Fred McGriff (this week in Sports Illustrated) and Dale Murphy (I saw a number of Twitter links touting his credentials), whose numbers have been dwarfed since the mid-90's but up until that point would have been numbers that granted almost automatic entry into the Hall. I appreciate that people are drawing attention to their causes...but I'm afraid they're not going to get the necessary recognition and appreciation.
*I was going back through some of my old posts, and came across these two notes about the Marlins from a year ago:
...I had a feeling there was no way Hanley Ramirez would handle Reyes taking over shortstop for the Marlins with grace. If I'm the Marlins, I try to trade him for the haul it would bring in and get rid of that headache....
...Speaking of trades, I know the Marlins are in a different spot than they were in 1997 and 2003...but would you be surprised if Jose Reyes and Mark Buerhle don't play out their full contracts with Miami? And color me super underinformed about the financial snafu regarding the Marlins' new stadium, but the fact that there is an issue with the money for the stadium kind of clashes with the team spending boatloads of money on free agents...whether taxpayers are involved or not. Something doesn't feel right there. Or maybe I'm just bitter....
I'm not the greatest prognosticator, but sometimes I strike gold.
*I'm surprised R.A. Dickey made it through the Winter Meetings without being traded, but based on some of the garbage predictions that have come out of those meetings in the past, I suppose I shouldn't be. There's talk that once Zack Greinke decides on his destination trade talks for Dickey may pick up again. I could see Dickey being traded before Opening Day, but I could also see the Mets keeping him for a possible run in 2013...and then if that doesn't work out, making a trade deadline deal. Of course, that latter situation is a gamble, because there's no way his trade value gets any higher than it is right now.
*By this time next week I will be immersed in following my Bowl Pool. I love that time of year.