Though there are probably some mixed opinions on Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis staying with the club through 2014, but most feel that it's a positive move for the club. There are some troubling statistics with Lewis as the head coach of the Bengals, but he has brought respectability and competitiveness to the club from the dark ages of the 1990s and early part of the 2000s.
Fans and critics aren't the only ones who have opinions on the move, either. The opinions that matter the most are the players that Lewis coaches and some of the Bengals' team leaders have sounded off on their thoughts on the extension. And they're overwhelmingly positive.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, overwhelmingly looked to as the team's offensive captain and collective voice, had a lot of thoughts on the matter.
"Those things aren't important issues to us. It's exciting to hear, but we're not worried about that," Whitworth said. "We're worried about being as good a football team we can become opening week.""He's continued to battle through so many adversities we've had in this organization and always finds a way to put a good product on the field," Whitworth said. "It's a great win for both sides. (The last two years have) been exciting. There's been a new energy. We don't have a choral of things that don't matter ... some of our best players out here are taking the most reps because they want to get better and that's a neat way to practice. It's only going to make us better."
"His consistent path. He's really not a guy that veers off what he plans to do much at all," Whitworth said. "He's stubborn with them. As long as you adapt a little and are stubborn with your core values, I think you're going to have success. He wants guys who are grown men off the football field and guys who are grown men off it."
Whitworth is echoing the sentiment of change with the Bengals over the past two seasons and is attributing it to Lewis' approach. The latter portion of Whitworth's quote notes a sense of morality and that has definitely been stressed in a lot of operations of the club in the last two years--particularly in the draft.
Leon Hall, who seems to be one of Lewis' favorite players on the roster, spread some Lewis love as well.
"He's like an old school coach as far as hard work. Head down and grinding," Hall said. "At the same time he knows when to let up and give the players a break. As long as you're playing hard, he's always on your side.""I've never had a locker-room issue," Hall said. "We don't have bad seeds that I can see. I'm more comfortable in this locker room than I have been in the last couple of years."
If Lewis is an old school coach, then Hall is an old school cornerback--a tough and willing tackler who plays the game the right way. It's also refreshing to hear Hall touch on the locker room aspect. The Bengals over the past couple of years have commenced a locker room purge, ridding themselves of malcontents. Hall has taken notice and attributes that to Lewis' philosophy.
Defensive tackle Domata Peko carries the same kind of weight with the defensive unit that Whitworth does with the offense. He made a brief statement on the Lewis extension, but it was perhaps the most poignant.
"Thank God," Peko said. "I couldn't see myself playing for anyone else. When you come to Cincinnati, you know Marvin Lewis is a hell of a coach and he's going to look after his players. That's what kind of coach he is. A player's coach."
Wow. Peko is correct about Lewis' reputation around the league that he has built since his days with the Baltimore Ravens. It's safe to assume that the players' opinions are overwhelmingly positive about the Lewis extension. Now, it's just a matter of it going past words and showing good results on the field in 2012 and beyond.