Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis is one of the longest tenured head coaches in the NFL. Only the Patriots' Bill Belichick and the Eagles' Andy Reid have been with their teams longer. Since 2006, an average of 5.6 head coaches have been fired per year.
Lewis, now entering his tenth season with the Bengals, is no stranger to the "hot seat", but is he on it again?
Lewis signed a two-year contract extension in 2011, and is now entering the final year of that contract. Expectations are a little higher this year, with so much young talent and a team that made the playoffs last year. So do you extend him now, before the season starts? Or wait and see if he can field a successful team in consecutive seasons for the first time?
Jim Schwartz, the head coach of the Detroit Lions, who has lead his team on a very similar path to what Marvin Lewis did in his first three years with the team, received a contract extension from his team on Friday. Schwartz and his number one overall draft pick quarterback led the Lions to the playoffs in Schwartz's third year, but seemingly at the cost of a lack of discipline. The Lions have already had six arrests in 2012.
When asked two weeks ago if he expected a contract extension before training camp, Marvin replied, "I don't know the answer to that." And if there had been any contract discussions with Mike Brown recently? "Not in a while".
Lewis was rumored to be reluctant to sign last year's contract extension unless major philosophical changes were made, and now that he and Mike Brown are on the same page, the ball is in Marvin's court.
Pro Football Weekly recently ranked all 32 head coaches according to the temperature of their seats "in reverse order of comfort", and Marvin Lewis was ranked 26th out of 32. In this list, it means that Lewis's seat is pretty hot.
Marvin Lewis, whose Bengal teams have never won a postseason game in his tenure, likely once more faces a make-or-break season. Lewis, who's entering the final year of his contract, admitted recently that there hasn’t been any substantive talk towards a new deal in "a while."
What Lewis needs to do to keep his job in 2013: Although he has won some battles with Brown, such as adding to the scouting staff and, well, keeping his job this long, it’s still a shaky situation. The playoff loss in Houston might have done more harm than the playoff appearance did good, odd as that sounds. Lewis is criticized for his game management by fans and media, often in his use of timeouts and challenges, so he’ll be under the microscope in 2012. It’s also an awkward phenomenon, but the Bengals actually have two well-qualified candidates to replace Lewis on staff in offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Gruden turned down an interview for the Jaguars’ head-coaching vacancy after coming out of nowhere, which raised eyebrows.
The writer really never answered his own question about "what Lewis needs to do to keep his job in 2013". So I'll answer it for him. I think as long as this team avoids another 4-12 disaster, Lewis will be safe. Lewis has finally wrestled enough power away from Mike Brown, and the two are moving forward with some positive momentum. To cut Lewis short after this season would set the team back, but then again, there are some decent head coaching candidate on the team already.
Bengals great Cris Collinsworth is on Marvin Lewis's side, having recently told Bengals.com's Dan Hoard that he believes in Lewis.
"I’m a believer in Marvin first of all," Cris told Hoard. "I think the Bengals have finally eliminated the revolving door thing at the head coaching position and they’ve kind of been rowing the boat in the same direction for a little while.
What do you think?