“Near mutiny” forced the hand of Marvin Lewis

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So why did Bengals coach Marvin Lewis fire offensive coordinator Ken Zampese? Lewis basically had no choice.

After two home games only four days apart and zero touchdowns and nine total points scored, Lewis was facing a “near mutiny,” a league source tells PFT. The normally quiet A.J. Green publicly sounded off, and plenty of other players had plenty of pointed things to say privately, we’re told.

The fact that Lewis would cut the cord so quickly underscores how poorly the week has gone for Zampese, who simply hasn’t been able to do what Hue Jackson (and Jay Gruden before him) did with the offense of a team led by a defensive-minded coach. Yes, the fact that Zampese was fired after two games suggests he should have been fired after the 2016 season. Lewis nevertheless had to do something to keep things from imploding.

So what will Bill Lazor need to do to turn things around? As discussed on Friday’s PFT Live, the Bengals seem to spread the ball around to too many weapons, instead of building the attack around their best player(s). Throw it deep to A.J. Green at least every other drive; even when he doesn’t catch it, knowing it may be coming will open up the rest of the field. Pick a running back and make him the workhorse, instead of trying to spin the dial from Jeremy Hill to Joe Mixon to Gio Bernard.

The teams that can get away with having so many different players touching the ball typically have franchise quarterbacks distributing it — and distributing it so well that no one grumbles about not getting it enough. With Andy Dalton regressing, the ball isn’t being distributed effectively, and those who believe they should be getting it more often are going to begin to get upset.

So that’s the free advice to Lazor. Take shots to Green and John Ross, who disappeared after an unavoidable fumble that happened when Kareem Jackson put his helmet right on the ball. Pick a tailback and let him pound and pound and pound some more.

Here’s another tidbit for Lazor: Cultivate true leaders on offense. Dalton seems disengaged to the point of disinterested when things aren’t going well. Someone needs to show some fire and passion to snap this offense out of its funk. If not the quarterback, then it needs to be someone else.

68 responses to ““Near mutiny” forced the hand of Marvin Lewis

  1. Lewis is one of those guys that hates change. He hates changing coaches, hates letting any players go. And that’s basically why the Bengals have hovered between below average and mediocre for 15 years

  2. That offense was as ugly as ugly gets last night. Dalton has been a decent, top half of the league QB for a few years. Right now he is all of a sudden horrible.

    Something had to change.

  3. Watching Zampese call plays last night reminded me of Dana Bible (Eagles fans will remember him). Now Zampese’s firing reminds me of Bible, too. Anyone would be an improvement. The texans have a good D, but man that was horrible play calling last night. Just horrible.

  4. Commit to Joe Mixon, with Bernard getting 3rd down work, and Hill getting the goal line carries. Take a shot deep to AJ Green every quarter. Get Tyler Eifert the ball more often. Just these few changes would significantly help. Although it does seem like Dalton may be completely lost right now.

  5. “Only the Patriots’ Bill Belichick has been with his team longer than Lewis has been with the Bengals. But look at rest of the names at the top of that list: The six longest-tenured coaches in the NFL (Belichick, Lewis, Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh), all have Super Bowl rings, except Lewis. Lewis doesn’t even have a postseason win.”

    Why keep Marvin? 13 years and 0-5 in the playoffs. It’s time for a complete purge of the Bengal’s coaching staff

  6. This franchise is going NOWHERE as long as Marvin Lewis is around. The guy has no control over his team, he instills zero discipline in his players, he brings in a bunch of arrogant meatheads and lets them run amok, and defends their character when they get arrested and tells cops “F you i hope you die”. Most dignified organizations would cut the guy, but ol Marv’s like “well yeah he used some bad language, so what”. Real classy, coach. Way to set the precedent for your locker room leadership.

    And as usual, the rot comes from the head down. Mike Brown doesn’t care about anything that does or doesn’t happen on the field, as long as he saves a few bucks at the end of the day. The guy pinches pennies so hard his fingers are basically made of copper at this point. Wins, losses, success, failure, it’s all the same to him. The fans mean NOTHING to him. It’s almost like he’d PREFER to watch all their good players walk out the door so he doesn’t have to pay them.

    The fans in Cincinnati deserve better than Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis and Pacman Jones and Vontaze Burfict. The fans should basically be cheering for a mutiny at this point, because at least then they might FINALLY be able to shake things up.

    As if the offensive coordinator is the problem, as opposed to letting Sanu and Jones walk out the door one year leaving AJ Green almost completely alone in the WR core, then letting 2 pro bowl OL’s walk the next year in Zeitler and Whitworth and having nobody even close to as good to replace ANY of them.

    But hey, ownership saves some money, so who needs touchdowns?

  7. Lazor needs to find a way to give his QB better pass protection, whether it’s double teams or creative schemes, when in their one-on-one match-ups the offensive linemen can’t keep opponents like Suggs and Watt from pressuring Dalton just about every time he drops back.

  8. Spreading the ball around hasn’t been the problem. They did that well under Jackson and Gruden. Zampese just stunk. Maybe guys ought to stop getting jobs based on their father’s name is all. And people blaming the offensive line departures are dumb. They prepared for them to leave by drafting 2 OTs 2 years ago in the first 50 picks in the draft. It’s up to your offensive staff to develop that. That was happening under the previous coordinators and came to a grinding halt with this guy.

  9. Next to your annual reminder of the legacy of Joe Delaney, this is probably the best thing I’ve ever read from you Mike. I could kiss you. I agree with all of your points and If Dalton doesn’t want to take on the rigors of being a team leader than he needs to step aside because he makes too much damn money to stand there with his hands tucked into his shoulder pads. I’m proud of the members of the team who flipped out last night and demanded Zampese resign, it needed to be done.

  10. So it was all Zampese’s fault, your 14 years of .500 records and total (0-7) playof failures, Marvin? That’s some doing for a guy who only actually became your OC last year.

  11. The Texans used 7 linemen at times. If the bengals would run 6 out there for most plays they could have time to throw the damn ball.

  12. Well, on the bright side I didn’t even think the Bengals players cared enough to complain in the first place.

  13. Ironically so too should Marvin Lewis been fired after the 2006 season. It foreshadowed the coming mediocrity.

    Wait, what? Oh…2016? My bad, I’m off an entire decade.

  14. Are we sure this isn’t just a player protest against Marvin’s anti-dancing stance? If so, they have been quite effective. “If I can’t dance on TV why should I even try to score?” 😉

  15. Why do Bengal fans continue to go to the games? I get the feeling an empty stadium might…. Just MIGHT get the greedy owners attention. You want Marvin fired, stop showing up until he’s gone. It’s that simple. Spread the word

  16. They could have had 10 days to prepare Kaepernickto start. Instead, they will continue to play the bum Dalton. Hmmm. Dalton is white and Kaepernick is black. What could possibly account for the difference in treatment?

  17. Marvin Lewis is the problem. The Bengals are conservative to a fault which is why they almost always are playing close games. They don’t do any more than they have to in a game offensively. They’re more looking to run out the clock with a slight lead than to put the gas on the pedal. He comes from the Raven’s philosophy of winning when the Ravens had one of the best defenses in the NFL and one of the worst SB winning QB’s in Trent Dilfer. Too bad Marvin Lewis hasn’t and will never have a defense of the caliber of that Ravens era who could afford to get run stuffed all game and win games playing so conservatively without taking any risks. So most games the Bengals play end up these barely winning by a TD games unless the other teams defense breaks from the run or a here and there air out. The Bengals have IMO underachieved offensively more than any team considering their talent and a large part of that is due to Marvin Lewis as their head coach.

  18. Oh and AJ Green should regularly be putting up Antonio Brown numbers. He is the most gifted natural receiver i’ve ever seen. He was as born to play WR like MJ was born to play basketball.

  19. If the Bengals are 0-5 at the bye, the stadium will be empty on gameday and we can all welcome new head coach Paul Alexander.

    Only empty seats and no concession sales will force a mid-season change.

  20. Already missed opportunities to promote Hue and Zimmer because people keep buying tickets, Mike Brown is making money so Marvin has stayed for 14 years! 14 years and no playoff wins. And to top that he was giggling again in his press conference today. I’ve said it before, the joke is on us Bengals fans.

  21. .
    I can’t think of a team that had lost as many good players to free agency than the Bengals have in the past two years.

  22. As a Dolphins fan,

    Bill Lazor calls plays like you or your frodo when they’ve had a few beers and start playing Madden. Which is great, except unlike Madden, Lazor isn’t putting up too many points on anyone.

    He gets one dimensional way too fast. The RB’s won’t crack over 15 carries combined. He loves the bubble screens, he’ll try to run no huddle, tired defense be damned. And when you do get in the red zone? You’ll be kicking field goals a lot.

  23. Lewis is to blame……..not necessarily for hiring a bad offensive coordinator, but he is weak. You can see it in his body language on the sidelines. He allows undisciplined players to run amuck, while they amass countless penalties. Lewis is not clearly in charge; clowns with the strongest personalities are.

  24. I was at this TNF matchup. At one point on the videoboard, they were offering Seasopn Ticket Memberships with PERKS! Such as: Early entry into the Bengals Pro Shop! Hooray! I can’t get my wallet out fast enough!

  25. I don’t care if Bill Walsh is sending plays in from the sideline. If The Ginger is overthrowing a wide open Brandon LaFell streaking down the left sideline by five yards and throwing the ball at wide open receivers’ feet and floating passes well over their heads on third-down, it doesn’t matter who the OC is.

    As if my name isn’t a dead giveaway, as a Steelers fan I will tell you that I fear AJ McCarron much more than I do Andy Dalton but, shh, don’t tell anybody. I’m more than happy to have Andy around.

    0-2 going to Green Bay? Yeah. 0-3.

  26. And the people out with the knives for Lewis don’t know how that franchise works apparently. He’s there because he works well with all of the stuff you pinheads blame him for: the Pac Man Jones, the Burfects, the old days with Chris Henry (RIP), the years and years with Bratkowski, etc. What do you think all of that contract wrangling of getting guarantees that they would do A, B, C, and D differently when he agreed to come back after that 2011 season? That’s when the scouting improved. That’s when they actually got an indoor practice facility. That’s when Bratkowski got sent packing for Gruden. None of that was happening before, and from watching them on Hard Knocks, they’ve slid back the other way because Mike Brown is still the owner. It’s his team.

  27. lazer: its easy… build around aj and joe.. mixin some eifert and make john ross get a ton of cardio running fly routes all day. add in some awesome dirty hits from vontaze… and profit

  28. There is absolutely ZERO chance the Bengals will ever be a successful franchise as long as Mike Brown is running the show. And seeing as he’s a minion of Satan and will probably live to be 600 years old, none of us Bengal fans will ever get to see anything other than misery and defeat.

  29. Line up Bernard in the slot , he’s shown he’s as dangerous as anybody with the ball in space. Leave the running to the other 2

  30. r8dernation says:
    September 15, 2017 at 8:53 pm
    Should have fired Lewis and promoted Hue.
    Even better, they should have given the job to Mike Zimmer

  31. When Ross fumbled, he disappeared. When Kareem Hunt fumbled, Andy Reid kept him in and he set an NFL record for productivity. Ross is an outstanding, explosive talent. When he’s in the game, the defense has to pay attention to him, and that means less attention to A.J. Green. When Joe Mixon is in the game, the defense has to be ready for him to rum wide, or up the middle. They also have to watch him coming out of the back field. But the Bengals had Mixon and Ross on the sidelines for most of the game. Andy Reid doesn’t have Kareem Hunt on the sidelines. Minnesota doesn’t have Dalvin Cook on the sidelines. Jacksonville doesn’t have Fournette on the sidelines. No. These teams that are winning put their best players on the field. Make sense? Poor Bengals’ fans. And Andy Dalton? He’s shown glimpses here and there. Let’s see what he can do with a new coordinator. Hopefully Mike Brown has a son or a grandson that is getting ready to take over soon. This whole franchise seems to be going in reverse. And fast.

  32. Lazor was a disaster in Miami. He was extremely predictable as a play-caller and severely stunted Tannehill’s development as a QB. Marvin Lewis is in big trouble if he is now banking on Lazor to be his Offensive wunderkind.

  33. Bengals will probably go to the playoffs 2018 if they just get ahead of this Lewis debacle and can him, get rid of Dalton, draft Rosen and there ya go. It would be ironic, if they did and won a playoff game. Problem is, Mike Brown would then hire Marvin back thinking since it was mostly his team that won, he made a mistake firing him……which would promptly send them back into a playoff freeze.

  34. Well, I’ve been a fan for the entire 50 year run for the Bengals. Lots of good comments above. My complaint about Lewis has always been that he’s never committed to any particular offensive or defensive identity for this team, despite having some excellent players. I’m not one to just say that ownership is cheap, etc., because that really hasn’t been true for years. The problem this year is that they haven’t made any effort to match their scheme to their players. Yeah, they lost their two best OL players, but the guys they have left have a different skill set. Use their athleticism instead of using them as if they’re big, pounding guys; use their very good skill players to create mismatches; move Dalton around; play faster. That’s just the reality of their personnel and they don’t seem to realize it.

  35. Unfortunately even an empty stadium might not produce a firing of Lewis.

    The current TV contracts are the worst thing ever to happen to the NFL from a fan standpoint. A team could go 0-16 five years in a row and the owner will still get paid huge from the TV deals with the equal revenue sharing those deals entail.

    If the league really wants “parity” they will take half the TV money and split it into 256 shares, each one representing a regular season win. Go 0-16, 1-15 or 2-14? The owner doesn’t get anywhere near as much in those TV checks. I think we’d see an immediate impact in the bottom feeding teams working much harder to put a good product on the field.

  36. Lewis is a crappy coach. He should have been fired long ago.
    He is protected because he is black and there are not enough NFL black head coaches according to the PC pundits, reporters,etc.

  37. Back in 2015 JJ Watt called the Red Rifle Andy Dalton the Red Ryder BB Gun looks like JJ Watt was right.

  38. He deserved it just for his play calling the 2nd half of Thursday’s game. Houston’s #1 and #2 Corners were both out of the game and he targeted AJ Green, arguably a top 5 WR in the NFL, how many times? Twice? After he catches a 50 yarder surrounded by 3 defensive backs, it’s just inexcusable, he needs to show that people will be held accountable…

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