At this point in the 2015 offseason, the Bengals were several months into questions about their fourth playoff loss in as many years and what they would do to get a better result the next time around.
Coach Marvin Lewis was the coach for all of those losses and he was the coach again last season when a Jeremy Hill fumble and a pair of ill-timed penalties conspired to send the Bengals to an 18-16 loss to the Steelers in their playoff opener. The fifth loss in a row has led to many of the same questions, including Albert Breer of NFL Media’s query to Lewis about what the team can learn from their most recent defeat.
“To press on,” Lewis said. “There’s nothing they can do about it now. We’re gonna learn to answer the question and press on. Everyone keeps bringing it up. We have to move on. It’s done and gone. April 18, it gets buried. It gets exorcised. And then we move on and we’ve got put our heads down and do everything we can to earn our way back into the playoffs.”
The Bengals won’t quite be starting from scratch when the offseason programs in a couple of weeks — linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s three-game suspension guarantees some hangover into the regular season — but every NFL season presents new opportunities regardless of the way things ended the previous year. With Lewis in the final year of his contract, the need to exorcise the playoff one-and-dones once and for all might be as urgent as it has ever been.