It was a little over a year ago at this time when reports surfaced Marvin Lewis was on his way out of Cincinnati.
It was expected to be a mutual decision. Another failed season of finger-pointing just finished, and Lewis was believed to be tired of working for Bengals owner Mike Brown. Lewis was expected to meet with the 49ers.
Lewis decided to stay. He said things would be different, but they didn’t seem different in a good way in a surprisingly combative joint press conference including Lewis and Brown after the season.
Then, a funny thing happened: Things really did change after getting rid of Chad Ochocinco, Carson Palmer, and Terrell Owens.
“We got a lot of the elephants out of the room. We allowed too many people to be here that pull people in different directions,” tackle Andrew Whitworth told Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “People are now pulling in the same direction and not pulling about or worrying about things we have no control over.”
Are the Bengals a great team? No. But they are capable of consistently beating bad teams, going 9-0 against non-playoff competition. The effort is always there. The Bengals were expected to be the very worst team in the league.
Lewis reportedly adjusted his practice schedules and listens more to player input now. More importantly, he has a young team willing to listen to his message. He has talented lines on both sides of the ball.
“‘Young’ is an excuse. Now it’s time to win. Whether or not it is, we’ll see,” Lewis said this week.