Among NFL head coaches, only Patriots coach Bill Belichick has had a longer tenure with his current club than Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis.
The topic of those length of tenures came up at Belichick’s Friday press conference, and the Patriots’ coach opined that teams are more apt to quickly change course than they used to be.
“When I came into the league, that’s the way it was: coaches coached for a (long) time with the same team. They had a consistent program,” said Belichick, according to a transcript from the club. “There was always turnover, but not like there is now where guys coach for a year, year and [a] half and the team makes a change and brings in somebody else. Wheels spin pretty fast in that and along with it goes all the changes — head coaches then therefore coordinators, position coaches.
“I mean, you go to the Combine and it seems like every year a third of the coaches are wearing a different jacket than they wore the year before when you saw them. From that standpoint, it’s a big change from what I was used to, the way I was brought up on the league, brought up in football.
“We all know it’s a production business; we all know that you’re not guaranteed anything for very long. But the way things turnover in this league and in pro sports in general … It turns over pretty fast. It’s pretty amazing, really.”
Belichick, who’s in his 14th season with New England, complemented Lewis’ work in Cincinnati, noting that while the Bengals have won in different ways, “the common thread is that he’s been there.”
Said Belichick: “Marvin is a good coach. He’s done a good job. He’s been very consistent.”
Belichick also observed that Lewis seems to mesh well with Bengals president Mike Brown.
“Mike Brown-Marvin Lewis has been a good owner-coach combination. They’ve done a good job of acquiring personnel and coaching them and winning games. The consistency says something,” Belichick said.
Overall, the Bengals, who host New England Sunday, have made the postseason just four times since Lewis became head coach in 2003. That said, the bulk of those playoff appearances have come in the second half of Lewis’ tenure. What’s more, the last two playoff berths came after a rocky 2010 campaign, one that saw much speculation about whether there would be a coaching change.
Instead, Lewis remained with the club, and what has followed has been one of the more promising stretches in recent history for the franchise.
Has it all be perfect for Lewis and the Bengals? Of course not. The franchise still hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to ponder Lewis’ career arc. He’s had the time to learn and to apply those lessons learned. Think of all of the NFL coaches who have not had that chance.