Morning Stripes: Bengals get blasted

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
8:00
AM ET
It's Tuesday morning, and the city of Cincinnati is still standing.

That could be considered a minor miracle to some, because Sunday night, it looked like an angry mob was going to end up burning the southwestern-most corner of the downtown Riverfront. But I can report on this downright frigid Tuesday morning that no such riotous activity took place. Paul Brown Stadium and its accompanying outdoor practice fields remain fully intact.

Maybe it was near Freezer Bowl-like minus-25-degree wind chills Monday that kept the most angry and frustrated of Bengals fans indoors where they belonged.

Jokes aside, two days after yet another wild-card round exit, the pain in this playoff desert of a city is palpable. The most loyal Bengals supporters are upset with their quarterback. They're ready to give up on their head coach. They're all but rolling out the red carpet on the airport tarmac for offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, wishing him a safe and expedient departure out of Cincinnati for his slew of head coaching vacancy interviews.

Frustrations are high here. And they should be. Yet again, another year has gone by with the Bengals watching the playoffs from home before the postseason ever really got started.

While few of the cosmetic changes some fans are pleading for will actually come -- Marvin Lewis will continue serving as head coach, Andy Dalton will remain quarterback and the only reason Gruden leaves is because he's been hired elsewhere -- there is a sense among the populace that they swift, decisive moves need to be made.

Even one high-profile former player criticized the play calling in Sunday's 27-10 AFC playoff loss.

As we start off Tuesday's Morning Stripes, which includes a fair share of Bengal blasting, we look at former quarterback Boomer Esiason's take on the team:
  • Esiason, the owner of the Bengals' last playoff victory back in January 1991, took to task Cincinnati's game management Sunday. He didn't feel Gruden and Lewis put their quarterback and his offense in the appropriate rhythm in the second half to generate the kind of flow that not only would have kept the Bengals in the game late, but would have preserved their lead when the half started. He also criticized defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer for bringing out a defense that gave up 196 yards rushing. Esiason's comments came in the opening minutes of Monday's "Boomer and Carton Show" on the WFAN radio station in New York, according to this from Fox Sports Ohio.
  • The blasting didn't end there. One day after the loss, national writers from USA Today, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated were among those to rail against the Bengals and their ineffective quarterback. The Cincinnati Enquirer has gathered all of those articles in one place. Even one familiar name ended up in that link, even though I happened to think his summation was fair. (But maybe I'm a little biased)
  • While those outside the Bengals' inner collective are boiling, Lewis remains the model of calm under pressure. During his news conference Monday afternoon, he stood behind Dalton and said with a smile, "We'll be fine. ... We'll be better. We'll be all right." Here's a read on that from the Enquirer's Joe Reedy.

Coley Harvey

ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter

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