The changes to be made to the Bengals after a disappointing 2011 season do not include replacing the head coach. With Marvin Lewis coming back for a franchise-record ninth season, what will be different about Cincinnati?
That remains to be seen. Changes could come to the coaching staff, president Mike Brown said at a press conference on Jan. 4, noting that he and Lewis agreed that "things have to be done differently." There has been relatively little turnover on Lewis' coaching staff throughout his tenure in Cincinnati.
On the subject of the roster, both Brown and Lewis indicated that they liked what they saw from some of the young players who got a chance to play later in the season.
"We'll be a little different team," Brown said. "We were a little different at the end this year, and we have some good young guys, guys that showed very well. Our two defensive ends (Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson) looked to be real keepers in this league, and so do our two young wideouts (Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson). Suddenly, we were getting some young people that were showing up. We were moving the ball and sacking the quarterback.
"We were doing some good things. It's overshadowed because of the (4-12) record, but we see it and we know it. We know what it means for the future."
At some point, that future will include a new starting quarterback, but not for 2011, with Lewis telling ESPN Radio that Carson Palmer will keep the job next season. Whom Palmer will throw to is an issue to watch. WR Terrell Owens is a free agent and seems unlikely to be back. The Bengals reportedly do have Chad Ochocinco under contract for 2011, according to multiple media outlets.
Lewis' contract extension with Cincinnati, reportedly for two years, came after discussions with Brown about each's vision for the club. Lewis didn't elaborate on whether he had earned concessions from Brown on any issues. "I'm very satisfied about where we are, and that's all I'll say to it," Lewis said. "I wouldn't be sitting here if I wasn't satisfied with where we are moving forward."
Major alterations in how the Bengals conduct their football business don't appear to be in the offing. Brown defended the team's draft record and the size of its personnel department, which has only seven members. Also, Lewis said Brown would continue to have final say on football decisions, though both spoke of a collaborative decision-making process.