I'm not sure there's any use in recapping the finale. The undermanned Bengals played with a degree of valor, and did just enough defensively to cover the spread, which I greatly appreciate. Their performance against the Steelers might have been admirable, but given both their place in the standings and the big-picture stuff looming over the franchise, it felt very, very meaningless.
Far more important is what happens today, or at least in the coming days. Will Marvin be back? If not, then who takes his place? If so, then will anyone even care enough to pay attention to what's next?
We are right back where we were a year ago, with a wasted 2018 behind us, and questions persisting with louder volume about the direction the Bengals are going in, with thousands of fans seemingly ready to abandon the team if the status quo remains.
It was time to move on from Marvin a year ago, and after another season of underwhelming results, nothing has changed, other than fears of the current head coach being replaced by the guy who owns the second-worst winning percentage in NFL history, or Marvin being retained, but with more retread assistants being added to the staff.
The Bengals need a cleansing, and even if that'd never involve an ownership change, it does need to involve a complete detachment from the current regime, a freshening up of the organization, and something that at the very least makes this team - which might be the NFL's most boring - at least interesting, if at least no longer a punchline.
There's no use in rehashing Marvin Lewis' considerable legacy and the successes and failures that have come to define it, or openly fretting over what the unknown of the coaching change could bring. We've done those things for years now. The only thing that matters right now is whether Mike Brown decides to continue with more of the same while leaving a huge junk of a jilted fan base behind or he finally accepts and embraces the kind of change that everyone else can see is well overdue.
The Bengals have reached a critical juncture in their relationship with their fan base, and with the league moving in a more progressive and aggressive direction, they've hit a point where they can decide to stand and watch as the more foward-thinking franchises pass them by, or make those who still care enough to pay attention endure more of the same.
I know what the Bengals should do.
I fear what they might do.