Twenty-five years after one of the greatest Bengals team took the field, this new breed is looking to take the franchise one step further and hoist the Lombardi Trophy. The man who led the 1988 Bengals to a Super Bowl run was one of the most charismatic and beloved figures in the team's history, in head coach Sam Wyche. Whether he was bashing the city of Cleveland or his public feud with former Houston Oilers head coach Jerry Glanville, Bengals fans love Wyche to this day.
As the Bengals prepare to take on the San Diego Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday, the outspoken U.S. Representative of South Carolina had some thoughts going into Wild Card weekend. Speaking with Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Wyche shared his opinions on this year's Bengals team, their quarterback and his relationship with current head coach, Marvin Lewis.
"It's a good team. They've got it all. Defense. Their receivers are unbelievable. There may be a few teams that have receivers as good, but not better.
He also gushed a bit about Andy Dalton, calling him "smart" and likening him to one of the best quarterbacks in team history in Ken Anderson.
It will be recalled that Anderson was so good that Wyche, a backup quarterback on those first Bengals teams, was traded to Washington once Cincinnati drafted Anderson before he got into coaching and became a quarterbacks guru. Wyche likes that kind of throwing style. He calls them "Drew Brees guys."
"Compact; not as much can go wrong," Wyche says. "The big thing in the NFL is accuracy. When a guy is open, you can't miss. That's just the way it is in the NFL. A guy can make a great play on defense or every once in a while a guy drops one. But you can't miss. And you have to be smart and this kid (Dalton) is smart. You can tell by his body language on the field and the few shots on the sidelines."
The interesting bit from Wyche was in his relationship with Lewis. The two have become somewhat close in Lewis' 11 seasons as head coach and with his recent breaking of many of Wyche's franchise coaching marks. The two text message each other and talk on the phone from time to time. Speaking on the possibility of Lewis becoming the first Bengals coach to win a playoff game since Wyche did it in January of 1991, Wyche just said "He deserves it."
Wyche keeps in touch with current head coach Marvin Lewis via secretary Sandy Schick.
"She might call me and say, 'Marvin's down. Give him a call. He's in his car now,' " Wyche says. "When I say keep in touch, for a coach that means talking about three times a year.
On Sunday, Wyche thinks Lewis's name is going to join his in the postseason books.
"He deserves it," Wyche says.
Lewis may have to channel some of the fire, trickery and other attributes that Wyche exuded on the sidelines in order to get his name next to his in the franchise books. It starts on Sunday.