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Marvin Lewis treated 2011 return as a new job

Marvin AP

As the Bengals attempt to make it to the postseason for the first third straight year and to win their first playoff game since the week before they wrecked Bo Jackson’s hip in January 1991, the franchise’s unlikely success in 2011 and 2012 traces in large part to the manner in which coach Marvin Lewis viewed his return following a 4-12 season in 2010.

His contract had expired, and Lewis explains to Albert Breer of NFL Network that the veteran coach regarded the continuation of his employment as the equivalent of being fired and starting over in a new place.

“I was basically able to start again here, and that’s when I said, if both sides agreed that I would come back for the 2011 season, I was gonna have an opportunity to do something other coaches don’t ever have an opportunity to do, and that’s restart and re-function in the same spot,” Lewis said.  “You normally have to move.”

Lewis used his fresh start in Cincinnati as a vehicle for changing the team’s approach to player acquisition.  Talent-but-troubled athletes who would have landed with the Bengals in prior years would now be shunned.

“I don’t think Chris Henry would be picked today,” Lewis said, in reference to the receiver who arrived via round three of the 2005 draft, who received multiple second chances, and who later died after falling from a moving truck during a domestic dispute.  “Chris would have a harder time today, just because we’d be more skeptical on whether he could handle the day-to-day of being a good teammate.”

Lewis and the front office realized that problem players were holding the franchise back.

“I think there was always a feel that it was a ‘boys will be boys’-type situation,” Lewis said, referring to Henry and 2005 second-round selection Odell Thurman.  “Some boys just can’t get over that.  And unfortunately, the organization had to learn that, and it took a hit with those two kids, unfortunately. . . .  You gotta be sure he’s gonna mature into the right person.”

The Bengals are now maturing into the right team, and they could be on their way back to the Super Bowl, for the first time in 25 years.

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47 Responses to “Marvin Lewis treated 2011 return as a new job”
  1. raiderapologist says: Aug 13, 2013 9:29 PM

    The new San Diego Chargers.

  2. youarejealousof6rings says: Aug 13, 2013 9:31 PM

    We must ask ourselves: is anyone in Ohio truly happy? The only sensible answer is no.

  3. giantsfan64 says: Aug 13, 2013 9:31 PM

    They don’t want to go to the superbowl & play the GMEN.

  4. rcali says: Aug 13, 2013 9:34 PM

    You kind of wonder what Marvin Lewis could do on a team not owned by the Brown family.

  5. t8ertot says: Aug 13, 2013 9:38 PM

    If Marvin doesn’t win a playoff game this year, he needs to be gone. No more excuses. 10 years is more than enough

  6. sheriffrickgrimes says: Aug 13, 2013 9:42 PM

    San Francisco-Cincinatti Super Bowl. Maybe the third time’s the charm.

  7. jlmd17 says: Aug 13, 2013 9:43 PM

    Where are all the Dalton fans? If he were of another color you would be celebrating at least is win loss percentage. See Vince Young.

  8. thestrategyexpert says: Aug 13, 2013 9:45 PM

    Well he earned a lot of points with me when they signed Vontaze Burfict. That was such a smart value move. I spent more time writing about Burfict than any other player in the draft and whatever team landed him was going to be high on my radar for props!

  9. keepounding1234 says: Aug 13, 2013 9:45 PM

    I don’t think he should have used Chris Henry as an example. That was a troubled kid who died in a tragic way.

  10. craniator says: Aug 13, 2013 9:54 PM

    Alright , so then , how do you explain Vontaze Burfict ?
    I mean , don’t get me wrong — Burfict has been an absolute stud for them ; I believe he was either first or second on the team in tackles as a rookie , although in fairness , they didn’t draft him , they signed him as a free agent.
    I like the Bengals , I think they’re going to be good for a while , but at the same time , you kind of wonder if they aren’t a little bit like the Seahawks of the early to mid 80’s — good enough to make the playoffs almost every year but usually not going very deep into the postseason.
    Marvin Lewis has certainly changed the culture of that franchise , and for that alone he deserves a lot of credit.

  11. commonsensedude says: Aug 13, 2013 9:58 PM

    It says a lot about Aaron Hernandez, drafted in 2010, that not even the pre-2011 version of Marvin Lewis was willing to give him a chance.

  12. sicarii87 says: Aug 13, 2013 10:04 PM

    You can’t tell me Chris would’ve been passed over but James Harrison was welcomed with open arms….

  13. sirtalonhawk says: Aug 13, 2013 10:05 PM

    Kudos to Marvin Lewis & Bill Tobin for changing the environment of the Cincinnati Bengals. No longer are the Bengals a home for talented but troubled players. I’m so glad that Lewis & Tobin cconvinced Mike Brown to stop with the old Father Flanagan routine and signed those players on the cheap. We now have a team to be proud of, much talented and good people on and off the field.

  14. ravensdominate says: Aug 13, 2013 10:10 PM

    Only the bungles wouldn’t fire Lewis. Never won a playoff game. Why is he still there??? Cus the bungles are cool with not being great.

    I feel so happy to be a ravens fan when I look at teams like this, the browns and the redskins.

    World champs

    Out

  15. larrydavid7000 says: Aug 13, 2013 10:12 PM

    To be honest I don’t know how this guy is still a HC in this league. O waite its the bungules.

  16. fdugrad says: Aug 13, 2013 10:17 PM

    If one is a fan of the Jets (which I am not), then he/she should hope Rex will take the same approach. I doubt he WILL, however, perhaps he might read this PFT article, and who knows…

  17. somethinsbruin says: Aug 13, 2013 10:28 PM

    He could’ve picked ANY of the many losers they drafted and he mentions the dead guy?! Bad form.

  18. jdphx says: Aug 13, 2013 10:32 PM

    Uhhhh…. Vontaze Burfict?

    “Talent-but-troubled athletes who would have landed with the Bengals in prior years would now be shunned.”

  19. thegreatgabbert says: Aug 13, 2013 10:32 PM

    Marv was granted a second chance in life to disappoint and underachieve.

  20. tendigitpoet says: Aug 13, 2013 10:33 PM

    Apparently, Bo knew everything but how to outrun a linebacker in a home playoff game.

  21. mackcarrington says: Aug 13, 2013 10:39 PM

    I can’t help but always think back to when the Bills interviewed Gregg Williams and Marvin Lewis in 2001. The Bills picked Williams, turned down Lewis, and who knows how history would have turned out.

  22. Corey Jeppesen says: Aug 13, 2013 10:42 PM

    The media is good at making Lewis sound like he brought up Chris Henry. They do it to get a rise out of those offended he would talk negatively about a player who has died. When the truth is the reporter probably asked “do you think Chris Henry would make the team now?” or something along those lines. They leave out the question and make Lewis look offensive. Sorry, I just hate it when I see the media do this.

  23. huskersqb7 says: Aug 13, 2013 11:00 PM

    Marvin Lewis is a class act

  24. kacoliving.com says: Aug 13, 2013 11:17 PM

    Finally glad Marvin realized that the character of the players is as important as what they produce on the field. We now have a young team with good character who can really go places. It’s finally looking up to be a Bengals fan!

  25. whysomanylosers says: Aug 13, 2013 11:23 PM

    damn… singling out Chris Henry is kinda harsh. How about talking about one of the other prisoners… err.. players that were on your team.

  26. hlmatty1 says: Aug 13, 2013 11:30 PM

    Easy to say now, but without those 2 Bengals don’t get into playoffs in 2005 and Bengals fire him earlier.

  27. bharr170 says: Aug 13, 2013 11:47 PM

    He’s always been a good coach. Now his owner has finally stepped out of the way and let him do his thing.

  28. aaroncurryisbust says: Aug 13, 2013 11:51 PM

    I would treat as a marginal upgrade over a fast food job.

  29. natijim235 says: Aug 14, 2013 12:43 AM

    better philosophy and excellent young talent equals winning football for years to come – if they can keep them together – go bengals!

  30. ridnaway says: Aug 14, 2013 1:03 AM

    It’s way too early to even say the word “superbowl”, especially in the AFC North boasting teams like Baltimore and Pittsburgh who beat each other up. But Marvin benefited from an owner who hates hiring new head coaches and who seemingly realizes (finally) that he’s a business man and NOT a football guy. The Bengals new found success has a lot to do with their incompetent owner/GM finally getting out of the way of the coaching staff. Stay in the office playing parchesi and eating melba toast MikeyBoy and your coaching staff will give you a good team.

  31. fukdaeagles says: Aug 14, 2013 1:15 AM

    Says the man who signed (& re-signed) PacMan

  32. patriots420 says: Aug 14, 2013 3:25 AM

    I really like the way the Bengals are running their franchise in the last few years, stockpiling good and great talent and investing their ever so precious cap space into locking their own guys up and avoiding for the most part outside free agents, definetly expensive aging ones.

    I know AJ green will demand a mega deal but that still should not cripple them, as (unless he vastly improves) Dalton will not be in the upper echelon of high paid qb’s which will save some. But I do see him being good enough with a stud WR and two legit TEs and a good running game around him and a good defense to lead them to a Super Bowl.

    Their model stands in stark contrast to the way their division rivals built their teams and are now imploding in the bowels of salary cap hell, dishing out too many big deals to aging vets while not having consistent productive drafts. I’m ashamed for not knowing the Bengals GM but he should be mentioned before his more praised divisional adversary

  33. joetoronto says: Aug 14, 2013 5:07 AM

    They’re a train wreck of a franchise. Always have been, always will be.

    Just fold baby.

  34. ronmexicothecoachkiller says: Aug 14, 2013 7:01 AM

    Bengals have talent and should make some noise. But its way premature to mention the Bengals and Super Bowl in the same sentence.

  35. rutchaser says: Aug 14, 2013 7:17 AM

    As a fan of this team I wish Zimmer was the head coach. I also find it funny that Marvin says he wasn’t sure he was coming back in 2011. Where else was he going to be a head coach with no playoff wins on his résumé after all these years.

  36. foosball1984 says: Aug 14, 2013 7:53 AM

    i like marvin, for one he is smart, he know’s football especially defense, yea some of his teams played disappointing in his tenor here but that’s not all his fault he dealt with too many immature players, now that m. brown has given lewis some say in how they operate you can sense that good things are in the future for cincy, i do however believe the best move would be for cincy to make lewis the gm and promote zimmer to hc and bring in another nasty d coor, lewis has been a big reason why we have brought in a lot of talent the past 3 or 4 years, my biggest knock on marvin however is his lack of passion on the sideline and his poor use of challenges other than that for him to do what he has as head coach for this team is pretty amazing even though he hasn’t one that elusive playoff game yet, but i have a feeling it’s coming, good luck to my bengals this year.

  37. foosball1984 says: Aug 14, 2013 7:54 AM

    *won

  38. touchdownroddywhite says: Aug 14, 2013 8:10 AM

    If the Raven’s do falter, this is the Bengals division.

  39. jwil007 says: Aug 14, 2013 8:40 AM

    Bengal Fans,

    Be excited but lets not go over board posting rediculous predictions all over the net..We have talent, we have a good defense and weapons on offense but I’m a realist…And its about how Andy Dalton utilizes the weapons on offense….The team has to have minimal injuries for the BEST chance to succeed…..Lets stay humble and enjoy it….Its a long season…Dont over predict and look stupid at the end of the season…1 week at a time. WHO DEY!

  40. monsterscream says: Aug 14, 2013 9:20 AM

    Why did he have to mention Chris Henry? The kid died for Pete’s sake.

  41. atkinsandgreenreignsupreme says: Aug 14, 2013 9:28 AM

    Bengals fans lets keep guarded optimism at the season…..Hopefully we can change some of the feedback that we still get..such as fans of other teams that still call us the Bungles… LOL…They are far from that title…Hopefully we can sweep Bmore and Pitt this year and send their lockerrooms to silence like we did in 09′ and win a playoff game in the process… 1 game at a time….

  42. thegenoatkinsdiet says: Aug 14, 2013 9:29 AM

    Fans have known for a long time that something changed in the front office after he came back in 2011. It’s cool to see Marvin finally admit it. He usually doesn’t fess up to stuff like this.

    All you comedians keep on making your jokes. The blow that hurts the most is the one you never see coming.

  43. 52lightsxout52 says: Aug 14, 2013 10:20 AM

    I have always liked and respected Marvin Lewis as a head coach. I think the Bengals have done the right thing in sticking with him through thick and thin.
    I think their quarterback is better than advertised and I fully expect them to win the division this year.
    Sorry, Steeler fans…;-)

  44. realskipbayless says: Aug 14, 2013 10:22 AM

    ravensdominate says:
    Aug 13, 2013 10:10 PM
    Only the bungles wouldn’t fire Lewis. Never won a playoff game. Why is he still there??? Cus the bungles are cool with not being great.

    I feel so happy to be a ravens fan when I look at teams like this, the browns and the redskins.

    World champs

    Out

    Another classless fan from another classless organization. Get it all in now cause the end of the year the ravens are gonna be watching the playoffs and superbowl on their couches.

  45. wearethechampsandyourenot says: Aug 14, 2013 10:54 AM

    whos your daddy, marv?

    #champs

  46. thegenoatkinsdiet says: Aug 14, 2013 11:08 AM

    wearethechampsandyourenot says:

    Five months until you have to change your screen name because Marvin takes it away from you.

  47. Kaz says: Aug 14, 2013 11:44 AM

    People bringing up Burfict. Pre 2011 they would have picked him in the 1st round. Post 2012 undrafted free agent signing. See the difference?

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