In a season full of ups and downs, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis remained confident and led his team to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the franchise's first time in 30 years. Bengals fans didn't always share Lewis' confidence throughout the year, though.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach has an interesting way of publicly addressing the media and fans of the team. At times, one could view the statements as brush-offs with an air of "you don't what happens internally here", or "you don't know what goes on in our locker room". Though it's a tough pill to swallow, Lewis' attitude has truth to it--even if fans don't like to admit it.
Nothing exemplifies this truth more than the team's 2012 season. This year's version is a streaky bunch, enduring both winning and losing streaks and the emotions that come with said streaks. Amidst the Bengals' midseason four-game losing streak, fans had had enough of Lewis and the disappointment that his reign as the head coach has brought. We had heard about the character of this team, built by Lewis himself, and with the expectations for this year risen from the 2011 season, the disappointment that was occurring in October stung.
At one point, the team sat at 3-5 and the calls for Lewis' head were loud. He hadn't won a playoff game and a promise-filled roster was letting everyone down. Not without his brief moments of losing his cool, namely by publicly calling out his quarterback and middle linebacker, Lewis preached patience, understanding and faith in him and his team. He told us that his Bengals would make a turnaround and compete for a playoff spot this season. The general public waved Lewis off, scoffing at his pleas, telling him that we've heard the same rhetoric before and that the message was old.
Yet, Lewis knew what he was talking about after all. Ever since this promising Bengals team hot the depths of despair, Lewis' locker room rallied around him and have gone 6-1 since that midseason four-game losing streak. This finish to the season allowed the Bengals to clinch a playoff berth in back-to-back seasons for the first time in thirty years--something that not even the great Sam Wyche was able to accomplish in Cincinnati.
I envision Lewis telling us in a playground-style taunting voice "I know something you don't know!" while grinning wryly. We kicked him while he was down and he got back up with the help of his team and he's having the last laugh. The 2012 resurrection by the Bengals was a thing of beauty and really is simply a microcosm of his ten-year tenure in Cincinnati
Make no mistake: there is still work to do and things that Lewis needs to accomplish. Namely, amassing a playoff win or four. But, to discredit Lewis at this point would not be the wisest of platforms to stand on. Lewis isn't without his flaws as a head coach (take a look at some in-game decisions in Pittsburgh last week) and the resurrection didn't come without help from quality coaches and players; but he knows how to construct a quality roster, rebuild a team from the ashes and get his guys to play for him.
Bengals fans have given Lewis a lot of rope and exercised patience with him over the years, but this year wasn't one of them. It just so happens that he had more faith in his team and in his coaching abilities than most of us did. He knew something that we didn't.