CINCINNATI (AP) -Chad Ocho Cinco packed for a weekend trip to London, where he hoped to see some soccer. Carson Palmer had appointments to get his elbow examined on the West Coast. Cedric Benson headed home to Texas for some relaxation.
Having finally won, they could go merrily on their way.
The Bengals ended their latest dreadful start at 0-8, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 21-19 before heading into their bye week. There was a palpable relief that the streak was done.
``You know, the win is soothing,'' Ocho Cinco said.
While they're globe-trotting, the one-win Bengals can spend some time thinking about what comes next for one of the NFL's worst franchise.
Or, maybe not. It might just depress them all again.
The latest dreadful season has reminded everyone that the important things haven't changed in Cincinnati. As long as owner Mike Brown runs the franchise with his scattershot approach, the Bengals will continue to founder.
After a one-year respite from their misery, they're back to the Bleak Bengals.
ey were finally past this point when coach Marvin Lewis led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2005, their only winning season in 18 years with Brown running the show. Turns out it was a one-year aberration.
When the Bengals followed that playoff season with 8-8 and 7-9 showings, fans started to wonder if they really were going back to the bad old days.
Their fourth 0-8 start since 1991 drove the realization home. It wasn't just the bad record, though that was bad enough. It was the way the front office had slipped all the way back into the dysfunctional mode that makes losing not only possible, but inevitable.
Take Chris Henry.
The Bengals finally cut ties with the troubled receiver after his fifth arrest last April. Then, they took a couple of receivers in the first three rounds of the draft, a major investment at the position.
By reversing himself and bringing back Henry during training camp, Brown undercut his head coach and muddled things at the position. What has he gotten for his meddling? Henry has seven catches in five games without a touchdown.
Or, look at Benson, the latest example of how the team doesn't go in any direction for long.
Perry was drafted with the 26th overall pick in 2004.
Johnson held onto the job, turning Perry into a highly paid backup. Then, Perry got hurt repeatedly. So the Bengals spent another high draft pick on a running back, Kenny Irons in the second round last year. He blew out his knee and never made it back.
The job eventually reverted to Perry, who started the first six games this season, lost fumbles and lost the job just that fast. The Bengals signed Benson, who had been out of football resolving two court cases.
The job is his - for the moment, anyway.
Benson is on a one-year contract. Perry is likely on his way out. The Bengals could wind up spending yet another high draft pick on a back next April, in effect running in place at running back.
The offensive line also is a big mess, which is a big part of why Palmer is a mess. He got his nose broken in the preseason. His passing elbow later got damaged on a hit. It's unclear whether he will get to play again this season as he hopes, or whether he'll need elbow surgery, which creates a whole new concern.
Who's calling the shots here?
Brown, of course. Folks forgot about that when Lewis was hired from outside the insular organization in 2003 and got more leeway than his predecessors. He changed the coaching staff, improved the substandard weight room and changed perceptions of the team.
Lewis has lost clout. A run of 10 player arrests in a 14-month span hurt the franchise's reputation and left the roster in flux. The 1-8 record suggests it's time to start over again.
But how?
Lewis has two years left on his contract. Unless he presses Brown for more control, he's not in danger of getting fired. Brown seems unwilling to change or step aside, following the example of his father, who stayed involved in the family-run business until his death.
Even if he stepped back, his two children would gain control. They've been raised in the family tradition: spend only on necessities, do things the old-fashioned way, never give up control.
Reasons for optimism? Pretty hard to find.
Such troubling thoughts for a bye week.

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