I am not a big Marvin Lewis fan. Frankly, I think he is too timid. The brief audio clips of him attempting to don an heir of toughness come off as sincere but somehow out of place. The suit just doesn't fit. Marvin is far too often not direct and his words are not supported by his actions. I cringed during hard knocks when George Iloka sat in Marvin's office offering an explanation of his actions and Marvin quibbled over who had the other's face mask. There is a place for not being too overbearing with a young player, but that stupid action deserved a direct "Don’t be stupid. Don't hit another player. I don’t care what you felt. I don't care who pushed who. Do not do it again." End of story. End of conversation. I don't know what Marvin's was getting at. He didn't even seem to mind much. To be clear, I love aggressive players not stupid players who can't control their emotions. Which is why Marin must have the strength of character to establish a line in the stand.
Another example that stands out to me is the teams first practice after the release of Chad Ochocinco. Andre Caldwell & Jerome Simpson showed up to practice in the wrong shorts and shoes a la Chad's usual non conformance. Marvin made a huge deal over sending them back to the locker room to change in to the correct uniform for the day. He even addressed it with the press saying we're not going to do that anymore and he was proud of his stance and actions. He should have been embarrassed. Not for his actions that day, but because those actions were necessary with players he had been coaching for a least three years at the point. He demonstrated to everyone watching that he could not control Chad and even Caldwell and Simpson believed they could do their own thing. Controlling millionaire ball catchers is not easy but he constantly preaches toughness and team, but then doesn't follow through. Leaders that preach one thing and do another have a hard time influencing their organization even if they are well liked as I believe Marvin is. I think these are reason why the Bengals don't seem to be up for big games and big opponents. The head coach and the face of their team just doesn't inspire the single minded strength of will that refused to accept any thing but victory. To be fair, few do. He is likable, he is a good guy. But being timid and inconsistent makes him hard to follow.
But, I'm glad we have had Marvin. Despite his flaws, which we all have, its not a sin, he has been persistent in his endeavor to make this team into a Super Bowl Champion. The situation in Cincinnati may be the most challenging in the NFL and I don't believe many ,if any, other head coach could have seen the team through as well as Marvin has. Marvin is a much better head coach today than when he started because he learns from every experience and he adapts. He will make the tough decisions when necessary to improve the team. I believe that Marin and Mike Brown took the CP9 ordeal right in the chest. After answering all of the presses questions day after day, it is amazing to me that he didn't leave when he had the chance. But they both took a bad situation and turned it into something no one expected. It takes great strength of character to stay with the same team to rebuild rather than move on for a new start. He had to look people in the eye, admit mistakes, motivate them to try again, and motivate them to believe in him again. It would have been far easier to make a fresh start. But he chose to stay.
I believe he surrounds himself with people who compensate for his weaknesses such his offensive and defensive coordinators who are more direct and have stronger personalities. Being self aware and smart enough to adjust is not a common trait. So while I have my misgivings about Marvin's in the trenches leadership. I do believe that he has been great for this team. He has created high expectations inside and out. He has brought in great players and coaches. He has weathered the storms and improved. I wonder if he can lift this team up for the big games. I think that is why he adds a James Harrison. That is why he pushes Vontaze Burfect to 'Get them going!' He knows 'I may not be able to do it but these guys can.' He is an imperfect coach for an imperfect team but if he can get all the right pieces in place, just once, at the right time...the team and Marvin can rise to the top. It won't be his speeches or an persona, but by persisting and enduring where others would not go. I may be fan after all….