Bus Stops: These aren't the Bungles anymore; why Bills are bad
Marvin Lewis deserves credit for new mindset in Cincy
Braylon Edwards trade wasn't a panic move by the Jets
More thoughts on the Bills offense, T.O., bye weeks and the Raiders
Throughout the 2009 season, SI.com's Adam Duerson will work with Jerome Bettis to get the six-time Pro Bowl running back's observations about the previous week's games. Bettis retired from the NFL in 2006 after a 13-year career.
After 10 years playing in their division as a Steeler, I'll say this: I barely recognize these Bengals. I am so use to seeing the Bungles -- the guys who, in the last quarter of games, always found a way to lose. In the locker room and on the field, no matter what situation we were in, we always knew they'd find a way to blow it. We almost didn't worry about them; we knew they'd hand us the game no matter how well they played for the first three quarters. Most of those years we just laughed about the Bengals. Put pressure on them and they'll fall apart, we said.
But this team is the total opposite. They find freakish ways to win. And to see Carson Palmer's resurgence after his injury at the hands of my team... I think back to that playoff game in 2005 and it was precisely what we expected from the Bengals. Even in a year when they were good -- and remember that they came into Pittsburgh and beat us that year -- they still managed to have something bizarre happen. We always knew that would happen every time with them. They had buzzard's luck.
Now it's a totally different mindset in Cincinnati and you have to credit a lot of that to Marvin Lewis. He's taken his team into the fourth quarter and consistently won, against all odds. These are just things we always knew, in Pittsburgh, that the Bengals couldn't do late. This is a new franchise.
From a running back's perspective, here's what I see differently in Cedric Benson: He kind of plodded along in Chicago. I didn't see him running with vision. He ran tough, for sure. But he always looked like he was running to get tackled, and that won't get you far.
The Cedric Benson I see now is running to daylight, he's making great cuts. I am very impressed with the way he's turned things around and reinvented himself.
Here's why I liked the Jets' Braylon Edwards signing even before his big Monday Night game against Miami: It's a long-term move, not a quick fix; he'll fit in; and the Jets have the type of strong coach, Rex Ryan, who can spark a resurgence.
I don't see this as a panic move. The Jets got a Pro Bowl quality player for a low price; they made the move for no other reason. I try to put myself in the shoes of the Jets' players and I think they have to love this move. As a player you're always looking for the opportunity to upgrade your team. Benchings are panic moves. But not acquisitions.
Now, will Braylon hurt the rookie quarterback? I don't think so. He's the new guy -- perhaps one with a bad reputation -- and it's not his team. So he has to fit in before he can get in Mark Sanchez's ear, saying "Get me the freakin' ball." He did that in Cleveland because it was his team. But he has to play nice for a while in New York. It's almost a Michael Vick situation: he has to behave for a while before he acts out.
Who would have ever thought we'd say this: Perhaps we should all give Terrell Owens a round of applause. Can you imagine how much effort it's taking for him to stay quiet? Even if he were to talk out about Buffalo's woes, people would probably take his side. When have you ever been able to say that in the past?
And oh how terrible, terrible, terrible those Bills are. We should have seen this coming. I cannot imagine for the life of me getting through a season with even a handful of wins after my offensive coordinator was fired in the preseason. Enough wasn't made of that move.
Here's your problem: Turk Schonert spent all preseason working to set a rhythm of calling plays. And when you lose him, that rhythm totally disappears. Imagine changing the rhythm in the middle of a song. How do the dancers keep going?
Now that the losses are piling up, it's easy to pass the blame to the new offensive coordinator and management. And once you have players passing the blame, you're dead in the water.
People are getting too worked up about the early bye weeks. Players don't get bent out of shape with that. Ideally, would your bye week come in Week 8? Sure. That's what you might say in August. But just as often that early bye comes at just the right time. Look at the Bears and their early injury problems. A Week 5 bye was perfect timing for them. Critics shouldn't be so upset about this. The players aren't.
I loved seeing Ronnie Brown running hard last night against the Jets. Making it even better was that it came on the day we learned that maybe Miami tried to shop him this offseason, perhaps in exchange for Braylon Edwards. I'm curious how much he was aware of that. When you hear you're being shopped around you can get a selfish attitude, like, "Why should I care?" To see him running like he did last night, especially if he knew Miami had considered trading him, that's impressive.
I never really had to deal with that in my career. The closest thing I ever had was around 2000 or 2001. Right around then the Bears inquired about trading for me; I don't think it ever made the media. The Steelers didn't want to do it, but they talked to me about it. It didn't seem like the right fit for me at the time and the whole thing just went away. I can only imagine how it might affect a guy to be shopped without having any control over it.
It's time to connect the dots between the Tom Cable assault allegations in Oakland and the record of this team. The coaches' job is to get players to buy into a philosophy. And if the head coach doesn't have control of his coaching staff -- if his assistants don't buy into it -- then why should the players? Who would want to stay around in that atmosphere? When you don't have an atmosphere players want to be around, you've lost your team and your season is over.
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