In the 14 years before Marvin Lewis became the coach of the Bengals, the team finished in last place in its division seven times. (Twice, the Bengals landed fifth in a six-team division.) In 13 years since Lewis became the coach, the Bengals have been to the postseason seven times — including each of the past five years.
As Lewis enters the final year of his current contract, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report claims that ownership is becoming impatient with Lewis.
Before that report of impatience becomes anything more than a report of impatience, owner Mike Brown needs to think about the years before Lewis was hired, including an 11-year playoff drought that preceded Lewis. Sure, the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game under Lewis. This past year, that was poised to change before quarterback Andy Dalton suffered what became a season-ending broken thumb. Even with A.J. McCarron pressed into service, a wild-card win seemed a done deal until the moment that a pair of penalties on Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones allowed the Steelers to swipe a victory from the Bengals.
Could a failure to get to the playoffs in 2016 spell doom for Lewis? Maybe, but it shouldn’t — unless Brown is sure that he’ll be able to hire an upgrade, at an affordable rate.
“I commend Marvin’s achievements,” Brown recently said. “He’s done remarkably well with our football team here, in recent years especially. I respect him. I like him personally. He’s going to be our coach this year. That’s in the bank. Where it goes, we’ll see how it plays out.”
Five years ago, it played out with the coach’s contract expiring and both sides deciding that it made the most sense to continue their relationship. That continues to make sense going forward, especially since Brown seems to be one of the rare owners who doesn’t define success based only on whether his team wins the Super Bowl.
The Bengals have been incredibly successful over the last five years, even without winning a playoff game. Every season, 20 teams get shut out of the playoffs. For each of the last five, Lewis has positioned his team to be among the 12 that made it.