39 coaches and counting have won a playoff game since Marvin Lewis was hired

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Bengals coach Marvin Lewis got a two-year contract extension this week, meaning he’s likely to extend his current 15-year tenure in Cincinnati to at least 17 years. That’s a long time to go without a playoff win.

But through 15 seasons, zero is the number of playoff games Lewis’s Bengals have won. They’ve reached the playoffs seven times with Lewis, but they’ve lost in the wild-card round each time.

Winning at least one playoff game isn’t exactly a high bar to clear for an NFL head coach. In fact, since Lewis became the Bengals’ head coach in 2003, 39 NFL head coaches have won a playoff game. Here’s the complete list of coaches who have won a playoff game since Lewis got the Cincinnati job:

Bruce Arians, Bill Belichick, Jim Caldwell, Pete Carroll, Brad Childress, Tom Coughlin, Bill Cowher, Jack Del Rio, Tony Dungy, Herm Edwards, Jeff Fisher, John Fox, Jason Garrett, Joe Gibbs, Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh, Mike Holmgren, Gary Kubiak, Mike Martz, Mike McCarthy, Mike McCoy, Jim Mora Jr., Bill O’Brien, Chuck Pagano, Sean Payton, Wade Phillips, Dan Quinn, Andy Reid, Ron Rivera, Rex Ryan, Marty Schottenheimer, Mike Shanahan, Mike Sherman, Lovie Smith, Mike Smith, Mike Tice, Mike Tomlin, Norv Turner and Ken Whisenhunt.

That list will grow to at least 40 this weekend when the winner of the game between Sean McDermott’s Bills and Doug Marrone’s Jaguars joins it. It could also increase to 42 if Titans coach Mike Mularkey and Rams coach Sean McVay win their first playoff games. And it could grow to as many as 44 with Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer attempting to win their first playoff games next weekend.

So why does Lewis have such job security, given that many of the coaches listed above have been fired? In large part because an 0-7 playoff record is an improvement from the state of the Bengals before Lewis arrived. When Lewis was hired in 2003, the Bengals hadn’t even been to the playoffs since 1990. An 0-7 playoff record isn’t great, but it’s better than 0-0.

62 responses to “39 coaches and counting have won a playoff game since Marvin Lewis was hired

  1. Caldwell, Childress, Fisher, and McCoy have all won more playoff games than Marvin (loser) Lewis. Wow

  2. “39 coaches and counting have won a playoff game since Marvin Lewis was hired”

    I’m by no means a Marvin Lewis fan, I don’t understand why the Brown family continuously rewards mediocrity? BUT…! I have to say, that PFT is cold blooded with them headlines,smh…

  3. Ever since the word came down that Lewis was going to be back I have read/seen so many stories here and elsewhere talking about how terrible the Bengals were before he got there. Okay, they were terrible before he got there, we get it. But you know what…? They’ve been terrible WITH him there too!

    No idea how he keeps this job. Dude should have been shown the door about 4 years ago now.

  4. As a Bengals fan that supported Lewis far longer than most I’m very, VERY disappointed, but not surprised Lewis, is coming back. It’s not that Lewis is a loser it’s that he’s not a winner. His clock management, lack of sense of urgency, repeated issues of discipline, his continued insistence year after year after year that the Steelers games are “just another game” etc etc all point to the fact that he just doesn’t have the fire needed to win at the NFL level.

    Nice guy, smart man, just not enough passion to take a team to the next level.

  5. The Bungles are an organization that seems content having a regular season marginal winner without ever having any hope of winning a playoff game.

    Or, they are content with the Warden being in control of the prison farm team.

  6. sbdt says:
    January 4, 2018 at 2:05 pm
    Counterpoint to the “Keeping Marvin Lewis Makes Sense” article from earlier this morning
    ————
    Obviously you didn’t read it.

    “So why does Lewis have such job security, given that many of the coaches listed above have been fired? In large part because an 0-7 playoff record is an improvement from the state of the Bengals before Lewis arrived. When Lewis was hired in 2003, the Bengals hadn’t even been to the playoffs since 1990. An 0-7 playoff record isn’t great, but it’s better than 0-0.”

  7. Devils advocate here but I’m not sure any coach could win a playoff game with the Bengals. The Brown family is extremely cheap, underpaying coaches and allowing their good players to walk away. All of the front office people are family members and there are only four people in the scouting department. It’s the worst head coaching position in the league.

  8. Even Chuck Pagano with the try to throw, run one yard, try to throw again, and punt strategy won playoff games. Let that sink for one moment

  9. heelstrojans28 says:
    January 4, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    11 of 44 potential playoff winning coaches mentioned are named Mike …
    _____________________________________

    Maybe he should go by “Mike” Lewis?

  10. Fans have a right to be upset about that. The ultimate goal is to get to the Super Bowl, but at least get to the playoffs and win every now and then… They’re not playing for participation trophies. But with the logic from that last paragraph, I expect the Bengals to raise a banner next year that says, “Went to Playoffs a Few Times after 2003”

  11. Stinking on rye for a decade or so before he got there does not excuse lack of results for 15 years. You can prefer to keep him or not keep him, but to point to “before Marvin” is idiotic. “Before Marvin” they were also in two Super Bowls. The question isn’t about “before” anything, it’s about now and the future.

  12. If you still think Marvin Lewis should be coach, you obviously dont watch the game called Pro Football

  13. JIM CALDWELL won a playoff game!!! We’re afraid of the grass not being greener, when Jim Caldwell has won a playoff game and Marvin Lewis hasn’t? JIM CALDWELL!

  14. Just off the top, one loss was when Palmer got his leg Kimo’d, another Dalton as a rookie in Houston and again the next year in Houston. The only one where Marvin was culpable was the Burfict/Pacman meltdown and before that the Jeremy Hill fumble (Hill notorious fumbler and either he shouldn’t have gotten the carry or at least had the coach stress ball security for “one last play”).

  15. heelstrojans28 says:

    11 of 44 potential playoff winning coaches mentioned are named Mike
    ———————————————————————————–
    do we need a new Rooney rule? You have to interview someone not named Mike before you can interview a Mike?

  16. How many owners have had a team win a playoff game since Marvelous Marvin was hired?

    As someone running for President once said, the fish rots from the head.

  17. nflyoda says:
    January 4, 2018 at 2:24 pm
    Devils advocate here but I’m not sure any coach could win a playoff game with the Bengals. The Brown family is extremely cheap, underpaying coaches and allowing their good players to walk away. All of the front office people are family members and there are only four people in the scouting department. It’s the worst head coaching position in the league.

    18 4 Rate This

    —————-

    Do not agree all the way. Cheap, yes, but also he didn’t capitalize on his good drafts. As a Pats fan, NE and Cincy had the best draft yields from 2010-2014 in the conference.

    The problem is Brown is cheap and didn’t pay his guys ahead of time.

    For example, he should have dealt either Jones or Sanu prior to their FA status. He did neither and lost both.

    He also succumbed to the Joe Flacco contract that dumb Ozzie saddled almost the entire league with in 2013, where he was forced to pay Dalton the 20 mil, where he could have dealt Dalton instead and promoted McCarron.

    It’s just poor planning by Mike Brown.

  18. The problem is that unlike many owners that have NFL teams as a hobby, this is the Brown’s family business. As such his only measure of success is making a profit. The reason you hear so many stories about how cheap Mike Brown is….well, it’s because they are true. Family members are hired throughout the organization, qualified or not. They refuse to use free agency which would be okay if they kept the good players you draft, however they don’t.(Zeitler, Whitworth, etc.) Marvin is cheap and a known commodity. Just what Mikey likes….

  19. Marvin deserves credit for turning around Cincy. They had 4 or less wins 7 times from 91-02 and a high of 8 wins once. Also Marvin is a good enough talent evaluator to stay on in the front office but hes not good enough game day coach. His teams aren’t disciplined at all. He deserved a couple extra chances for the making the Bengals somewhat competitive as they had 0 playoffs from 91-02 And Marvin has gotten them there 7 times from 03-17. I think his time has run out though. They need a new voice, Marvin definitely deserves a front office spot but he needs to move on as HC. Mike Brown shouldve offered him a role in organization and hired a new HC. I wonder how different this conversation wouldve been had Carson not torn his ACL in 05, that really couldve been his year and this 0-7 record wouldnt be such a smudge on his name.

  20. I appreciate teams that stick with a coach long enough to actually give them a chance to get their system working so props to the bengals to trust in Lewis.

    That’s being said, it’s time to move on.

  21. At the end of the season, only one team hasn’t lost a playoff game, and only one team is relevant.

    How many of those coaches in that list have made it to the playoffs 7 times? Very few, at first glance. Most of them are forgettable and had fluke wins rather than teams that were competitive year after year.

    As a long-suffering Cowboys fan, I’m sympathetic with frustrated Bengals fans. But being mostly relevant over the last 7 years has some meaning.

  22. we had daddy bidwell who was notorious for being cheap. the son mike, changed everything when he took over, huge culture change. so glad they kept lewis and hue, so we don’t get them.

  23. I still do not understand how on god’s green earth this man still has an NFL Head-Coaching still heading into 2018 with ZERO PLAYOFF WINS. There are multiple head coaching candidates I would take over Marvin Lewis out there this off-season who I think are and will be much better than Marvin Lewis, hell imagine if Mike Brown had fired Lewis and promoted Mike Zimmer to the head coach or even Jay Gruden, the Bengals would be much better off. The Bengals need to fire Lewis and hire an offensive minded head coach who can get the most out of Andy Dalton.

  24. Anyone who lives in Cincy knows why he was kept around: because Mike Brown runs the Bengals like a family business, not a football team. He kept Marvin because A) at this point, Marvin is basically family, and B) sticking with him offers stability, which leads to C) fiscal stability and continued profits.

    It’s not about winning games, it’s about making sure Mike Brown’s sole source of income continues to generate that income. That’s why players and coaches don’t get fired often (almost at all) – because it’s a waste of money to pay someone sitting at home. That’s why we’re going with a mediocre retreat over a potentially costly excursion into the unknown. Keep the easy money rolling.

  25. “atlantablewa28to3lead says:
    January 4, 2018 at 2:12 pm
    Well, let’s put another spin on this: With Buffalo making the playoffs this season, the Browns are the only team to not play in a playoff game since Marvin was hired.”

    Crazier is Lewis was hired 9 days after the Browns last playoff game. Thats how long he has been there.

  26. When Lewis became Head Coach it was before the internet, smartphones, and possibly, color Tv. Here are a couple HC’s w/ more playoff wins: Rich Kotite, Wayne Fontes, John Mackovic, Bill Callahan, Joe Walton, and Mike Tice. I wonder if Paul Brown was his first boss?

  27. horsepedlr says:
    January 4, 2018 at 3:46 pm
    we had daddy bidwell who was notorious for being cheap. the son mike, changed everything when he took over, huge culture change. so glad they kept lewis and hue, so we don’t get them.
    ________________________________________________________________

    In Bill Bidwells defense, before the salary cap era and when Arizona was playing at ASU stadium Arizona just did not have the money to really compete and sign expensive free agents in that market at first. He was notoriously cheap but AZ also was broke for a while back in the day.

    Since the Cardinals around 2002 though and with AZ opening UofP Stadium in 2006 as well as Mike Bidwell taking over full time, Arizona is now a 1st class organization from the top down that has no problem spending money to win and has some of the best player facilities in the NFL. The Cardinals organization has went thru a MAJOR Culture shift the last 15yrs, they are now one of the top 5 best run franchises/front offices and Mike Bidwell is easily one of the best owners to work for in the Modern NFL.

  28. “An 0-7 playoff record is an improvement from the state of the Bengals before Lewis arrived. When Lewis was hired in 2003, the Bengals hadn’t even been to the playoffs since 1990.”

    So glad to see this finally pointed out. Lewis took a Browns-level bad team with Browns-level bad ownership and turned it into a team that makes the playoffs every other year.

    I understand Bengals fans might want new and exciting. But with a new coach there’s also a chance of reverting to Browns-level bad again.

  29. When I was 10, I was a decent swimmer. I finished 7th out of 100+ swimmers in the citywide meet. I got a lavender ribbon. Winning a playoff game is a lavender ribbon.

    Only one playoff game matters, the last one. Not sure when the media decided that it knew more than Vince Lombardi – “there is no second (or 7th) place in this business.”

    Winning a playoff game only had significance in the last decade or so – it’s just sports radio gibberish. Either you win a championship or you don’t. So far Marvin is 0-15.

  30. Notice that even Jeff Fisher and Jack Del Rio are on that list. You can’t get more 8-8 than those two.

  31. I’m not a fan of Marvin Lewis, but 39 coaches over the course of 15 seasons is not exactly a lot. It’s actually a pretty high bar to clear once you look at it as a percentage of the total number of coaches in that same time period.

  32. Folks keep talking about the recently fired head coaches who have won playoff games. So what, it didn’t keep them employed. I guess the path to success is to bring into your organization a leader that just got canned for not being able to lead. Im a fan, not an owner. If the guy that pays the bills wants Lewis, so be it. The Bengals know who their getting. He may not have won a playoff game but he has been a winner in Cincinnati.

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