Continuation of Bengals, Marvin Lewis marriage makes lots of sense

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Although it seemed abundantly clear that history may repeat itself, with the Bengals and Marvin Lewis opting to renew their vows at a time when either side could have walked away with no strings attached, many expected Lewis to leave. (A flurry of “Sunday splash” reports from December 17 regarding the coach’s “plan” to leave surely influenced that perception.)

But, just like they did in 2011, the Bengals and Lewis are sticking together again, to the dismay of many. It’s an odd reaction, which ignores just how bad the Bengals were in the dozen years before Lewis arrived.

In 1991, the year after the Bengals won their last playoff game, the wheels fell off, with the team plummeting to 3-13. Then came 5-11, 3-13, and 3-13 again. A respite in the form of 7-9, 8-8, and 7-9 followed, but next came the collapse: 3-13 in 1998, 4-12 in 1999, 4-12 in 2000, 6-10 (and last place in a six-team division in 2001), and 2-14 in 2002.

Enter Lewis, and the high-water mark from the prior 12 years became the floor. Instantly, the team picked up six wins, moving to 8-8. Then came another 8-8 season, followed by 11-5, a division title, and a playoff berth.

In 2006, the team was 8-8 again, which was still a far cry from 2-14. 7-9 in 2007 was a disappointment, as was 4-11-1 in 2008. But then came a rebound in 2009, with a 10-6 record and a division title.

In 2010, the Bengals had their worst year under Lewis at 4-12. But that was the last time the Bengals and Lewis decided, with a contract expiring, to keep working together.

The mutual decision paid off with five straight playoff appearances, and record of 9-7, 10-6, 11-5 (division title), 10-5-1, and 12-4.

Sure, they still haven’t won a playoff game since January 1991. And, yes, last year’s 6-9-1 and this year’s 7-9 were disappointing. But the 15 years under Lewis remain much better, all things considered, than the dozen campaigns before him.

And it’s more than just what Lewis has done as a coach. He has coaxed owner Mike Brown to spend more money on infrastructure, eventually breaking from a time when the front office was so understaffed that assistant coaches morphed into draft scouts after the season ended. Remember the rash of troubled players they routinely welcomed to Cincinnati? That happened not because Mike Brown wanted to run a reform school; it happened because, as players widely regarded as having the talent to be taken in round one slid for off-field reasons, taking those players in later rounds was a far safer proposition than relying on inherently flawed scouting processes, due to insufficiently funded practices. Put simply, they’d take a player who had plunged because they weren’t quite sure who to take instead of him.

So two more years makes plenty of sense, because the Bengals could do (and have done) a hell of a lot worse without Lewis. Lewis, in turn, could have done a hell of a lot worse by walking away from the only place he has worked for the last decade and a half.

If you’re still not convinced that Mike Brown should have brought Lewis back, ask a Browns fan what he or she would think if the last 15 years had played out in the northeast corner of the same state where the Bengals play.

46 responses to “Continuation of Bengals, Marvin Lewis marriage makes lots of sense

  1. ALL JOKES ASIDE — because I don’t care about that team at all — but having watched most of their games, you can say “Well, they are content with mediocrity” but then look… they finished 7-9, and that’s with being shut out by the Ravens and lying down against the Bears. They lost like 4 games in the final minute this year. That’s the difference between winning and losing nowadays.

  2. I’m so tired of the “but look where they were before him” argument. It’s such a lazy way of thinking. They’re not playing for participation trophies. The ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl. The goal is not to just exist in mediocrity and be better than the Browns.

    They’re not automatically going back to 2-14 as soon as Marvin Lewis leaves. This isn’t the same roster…

  3. Don’t ever try to tell anyone again you are not deranged.

    If the goal is winning the SuperBowl, this makes ZERO sense.

    Expect to see 25,000 empty seats for opening day next year or the people of Cinci are pathetic.

  4. That’s a loser mentality. Jim Schwartz should still be the Lions’ head coach with that type of thinking because he was better than what they had before him and Tampa Bay would have never brought in Gruden to get them over the hump in 2002. Lewis has done as good as he’s going to do, it’s time to take a risk and try to do better

  5. Classic Florio fanning the flame. We fully remember the 90s….should that be the standard for us now? Lack of second half adjustments and lack of playoff wins is the issue….not “did we have it better in the 90s?”

  6. Mike Brown is and has ever been the problem. They’re at a point now where they need to be aggressive in free agency (yeah right…) or blow up the roster and rebuild. I wonder at this point if Marvin is lingering with an understanding of a GM position waiting once MB fades into the dungheap of history.

  7. The man hasn’t won a playoff game in 15 years. Don’t ever talk to me about “privilege”. Find one other coach in NFL history with who hasn’t won in the post season for a decade and a half. Just one.

  8. Being just mediocre enough to stay the same isn’t really what I’d call a victory. At least the Browns make changes to show (or maybe imply is the better word) that they’re trying.

  9. The only thing that matters in the NFL is what you do in the post season. Lewis has done nothing. Also the argument about where the Bengals were in the 90s before Lewis is beyond old. No playoff wins then and no playoff wins in the last 15 years so I don’t see that big of a difference.

  10. Mike is right about this. I am a Bengals fan who also coaches football at the high school level and I was happy with the news. I really don’t think there is a better option to get the Bengals back to the playoffs as Marvin has, despite being in the toughest division in football through the years.

  11. Sorry Mike F. I disagree. Regardless of how bad they were before he came, he has been there 15 years and they cant win a single playoff game (and rarely make the playoffs)?? I am glad he doesn’t coach the team I root for. We fire head coaches that go the playoffs 4 years in a row, including the SB.

  12. Eloquent argument, but I think it’s just a cowardly move by the Bengals. The organization thinks exactly like you do; they’re so scared of becoming bad again like the 90’s that they’re sticking with a coach they feel can keep them ‘respectable’ even though there’s zero chance of ever winning a Super with Lewis. It’s not an odd reaction for fans to be dismayed. Fans want to win it all and the Bengals just signaled that they’re not really trying.

  13. i do not understand this- MAKES SENSE?????? For a paycheck maybe– so they do not fall back to where the Bengals were before he arrived? He did not want anyone else to “bear the fruits of what he has built there”? When has he ever shown he would know how to ripen the fruits (terrible pun here)? Thank the Lord I am not a Bengal fan — I would be going nuts. And it is irrelevant that Chris says their are not that many qualified candidates out there — I am sure Mike Lombardi (this is sarcasm) would know how to properly identify a good coach!!! We might as well stick with the evil we know.

  14. The realization us Bengals fans need to realize is Lewis is the best option to work with Mike brown. It’s that simple. You don’t have to like it but it’s the reality.

  15. Now there’s great logic, “Ask a Browns fan what he would think”.
    How about ask a Pats, Steeler, Packer etc. what he would think…and there’s your answer.

  16. I’m wearing a Browns hoodie right now and I’ve concluded that if your team doesn’t end with Patriots, it just doesn’t matter what coaching changes or drafting you do. Those wins he generated have the same end result that us up north have gotten in that span. Nothing substantial lol.

  17. Remember the rash of troubled players they routinely welcomed to Cincinnati?

    Jones, Henry, Burfect., etc. all drafted while Lewis was here.

  18. I think its ignorant to say.. “Hey Bengals fans, you should be happy with mediocrity because its not like the worst stretch of seasons in team history.” I was on the Marvin train for a long time. I appreciate what he did as a coach and an influence within the organization. However, he has shown time and again, he can’t keep the players disciplined and cannot win a playoff game. Why should we as Bengals fans be happy to be saddled with someone like this.. especially when the best argument against it is… hey… its not the 90’s Bengals. Marvin could have walked away a legend in Cincy, and in all fairness, still could for everything he has accomplished. This is a big risk for everyone involved. Bengals fans want to win and deserve to win some postseason games, not just to be happy because we don’t suck as bad as we once did anymore.

  19. Saying it makes sense to keep Marvin Lewis because 2 decades ago the team was even worse is just lazy. They said the same thing when Andy Reid left Philadelphia, and both the Eagles and Reid are fine.

    Since Marvin Lewis became the coach of the Bengals, Peyton Manning won Super Bowls with two different teams.

    The Panthers contended for two Super Bowls with entirely different rosters.

    The Seahawks have been to 3 Super Bowls, winning one almost ten years after the first trip.

    The Cardinals have won playoff games under two different regimes. The Giants have gone from the bottom to the pinnacle and back again.

    9 different teams have won Super Bowls. AFCN teams have been to the Super Bowl 4 times in that span, and Marvin Lewis hasn’t won a single playoff game. His record stinks off the bye, when he has an extra week to prepare, and he’s under .500 on opening day with the whole offseason to prepare. He’s barely above .500 in the division, but he plays the Browns twice a year, so really, he hasn’t been good there either.

    It shouldn’t make any sense to anyone other than Jeff Fisher that someone fitting the very definitition of mediocre can have an NFL head coaching job for 15 years.

  20. The “we REALLY sucked before so I’ll take being mediocre with no playoff wins” mindset is downright pathetic.

  21. It does for the Bengals. I’m not sure if it does for Lewis except that he didn’t want to leave his players as I said on this last week. Most Bengal fans don’t understand how deep rooted the problems are there and what he had to overcome in order to not just win but to get a lot of other concessions from Brown.

  22. Mike Brown is too cheap to hire a top flight coach, though.

    Stop making this about Rooney Rule or an argument against the same garbage that still occurs in hiring or interviewing practices even in 2018.

  23. The cluelessness of fans is always on display in these comments. Just read here after things that that have been known for years and were repeated here are disclosed. Yet fans still think this is just a matter of the right coach coming in, lol. Marvin Lewis had to negotiate in his contract for an indoor practice facility last time they did this. Think about that. In Ohio for an NFL team. There are mid major college programs now with an IPF, especially in colder weather locales (and I’m not even sure if the Bengals still have built theirs).

    However, you have out to lunch fans here saying mediocrity is unacceptable, yada, yada, yada. Just completely missing the point that you have a unique ownership situation to say the least that makes Lewis uniquely qualified to handle as he’s been the only one who has ever been able to handle it since Mike Brown took over for his father. It’s not about thinking you can’t do better. More than likely you can’t since no one else was ever able to work within the structure effectively. If anything, Lewis has wasted career trying to make it work because he’s a very good coach whether you believe that or not but has stayed there working around the nonsense.

  24. I was hoping for a new coach, but my concern was how would the Brown family compete, structurally and financially, for a hot candidate – they simply can’t do it. It should be won’t but the Brown family just isn’t wired that way.

    So, once Hue Jackson and Jay Gruden weren’t terminated, your candidate list would be a bigger crap sandwich than Lewis. While I appreciate that the Browns did not move like Modell and others, the Brown family will always hold the team back, regardless of the head coach.

  25. “babygaga19 says:
    January 3, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    Sorry Mike F. I disagree. Regardless of how bad they were before he came, he has been there 15 years and they cant win a single playoff game (and rarely make the playoffs)??”


    Rarely make the playoffs? They made the playoffs FIVE stright years very recently (2011 – 2015). Only a few elite teams can claim this kind of sustained success. And if they had gotten lucky a few times this season they may have backed into a wildcard spot, as well.

    I’m okay that Marvin Lewis is back. I don’t think he is the main problem. One thing I notice is that, in big games, the defense doesn’t know how to hold leads or make the big plays when it counts, or they get lots of stupid penalties (see Burfict and Jones in that playoff game against Pittsburgh 2 years ago that they were about to win even though Dalton was out).

  26. wtgriffin ,

    They can financially compete. Mike Brown won’t. He’s notoriously cheap. But to pretend the guy doesn’t have enough money is laughable. This isn’t baseball. The NFL’s TV contract guarantees this. What makes Cincinnati’s market any different from Pittsburgh structurally? The Rooneys aren’t hedge fund rich either, but they know how to run a football organization. Brown doesn’t. That’s the difference.

  27. realfootballfan says:
    January 4, 2018 at 11:26 am

    Not saying they can’t in terms of finances. I am saying can’t in terms of how he is wired. Remember Mike’s old Buick that he drove for 10 years. Guy worth hundred’s of millions of dollars and was driving a beater to the office.

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