Our beloved Cincinnati Bengals have now made back-to-back playoffs. Although I believed in Marvin as a head coach through the years, when the team went through those 4 losses this year, I commented to my wife after the last loss "Maybe they ought to fire Marvin Lewis". So, I'll readily admit that my faith in him wasn't unwavering but now that the team is going into post-season back-to-back, a feat that neither Paul Brown nor Sam Wyche accomplished, I think we need to tip our hats to him. I've been reading fan comments to various articles and I see a lot of people are quick to credit the players especially the defensive players and our brilliant defensive coordinator and future head coach in the league Zim. I salute them as well. But let's not forget that the successes and failures of a ball club is a team effort and ultimately the captain of the ship has final responsibility (and blame). Marvin haters can't have it both ways - calling for his head when the team wasn't doing well and not complimenting him when we are basking in the glory of our success.
What a run it has been! We have won the last six of the seven and the lone loss was by a point, a completely winnable game. We drove the final nail in the coffin by going to Heinz field and slugging it out, much like how Steelers Safety Ryan Clark wanted us to win. And it was sweet! Our offense still has a lot of room to grow and get better but we can see the potential there as well.
Marvin must be credited a lot for changing the locker room culture from the toxic, septic environment it was a few years ago to the selfless culture that it is now. Certainly the front office (and dare I say MB) gets their share of credit for drafting good players through the draft process and bringing in low risk high reward players during free agency. But let's not forget that all the coaching staff including Marvin give their input here. I am also sure that Marvin had a big say in picking his current coordinators although he is surely not the only one weighing in or making the final decision.
Marvin's philosophy has been simple - Train hard and play hard. You do your job and trust your teammates to do theirs and results will come. At the beginning of this season, ML went NFL to boldly say that we are going to be perennial contenders for playoffs and Super Bowl for many years to come. Not only has he laid the first few bricks towards this goal but has created an air of believability and self-confidence amongst the players and excitement amongst the fans. Not to mention taking in diamond in the rough players like Vontaze Burfict, believing in them and making them deliver like a first round pick.
After the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000, Michael Silver of Sports Illustrated wrote:
"If ever a man proved his worth as a future head coach, Marvin Lewis did it with this complete domination of the Giants in their 16 possessions: Punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, interception, punt, interception, interception, punt, interception, punt, punt, punt, end of game"
That was the year ML and the Ravens held the opposition to 970 total rush yards (~ 60 yards per game!) and 165 total points (10.5 points per game) in a 16 game regular season. So, let's not forget what a brilliant defensive mind he is and he gets a share of credit for our current defensive performance along with Zim.
Whatever may have been his weakness as a head coach (or perhaps he wasn't given the full latitude he needed until his last contract in 2011), Marvin Lewis has now delivered and I am confident as a fan that he will continue to deliver in the future. I make a bold prediction that the Cincinnati Bengals will win the Super Bowl in the next few years under his watch! Kudos Marvin. I think I speak for many in CincyJungle when I say that the fans are proud of you, all your staff and players. Keep us moving forward. WHO DEY!