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Questioning Marvin Lewis

There are those that are questioning if Marvin Lewis can get the Bengals over that hump. Enough of these 8-8 seasons; let's win a playoff game. Yes, he's led one of the most dramatic team turn-arounds (second to Sean Payton's Saints) in memorable history before taking a step backwards after an 11-5 season. His game management is questioned. His half-time adjustments -- if there's any -- are criticized. His ability to squash potential off-the-field issues unimpressive.

You can even criticize his draft choices.

Of the only players drafted in 2003, only Eric Steinbach, Carson Palmer and Jeremi Johnson start. Kelley Washington has been a disappointment and Scott Kooistra is fifth player still on the team. Of the 2004 draft choices, Landon Johnson, Madieu Williams and Robert Geathers have consistently made it on the field. Chris Perry is nothing but a broken (bone) record and Keiwan Ratliff keeps falling in the depth charts. Caleb Miller, while having a great 2006 by his standards, has been a primarily special teams player. Of the players drafted in 2005, only Eric Ghiaciuc and David Pollack started. Thurman is likely gone, Henry will never break a two-WR starting lineup and Adam Kieft has been injured since being drafted. The 2006 draft was a good one -- through the first two rounds. Then Rucker, Nicholson and McNeal have existing legal issues. Peko has shown flashes of being a good defensive tackle and Ethan Kilmer is the best special teams player on the team.

It's true; drafting in the NFL is nothing more than a crap-shoot. You pick guys and hope for quality production and guys that understand responsibility to their communities. In Lewis' defense, most of the guys that have gotten arrested either had no history of issues, or things happened while they were not under Bengals employment. And realistically, Lewis has picked up some great guys -- obviously. Some guys get lucky drafting players; others don't. Marvin is about in the middle.

More on questioning Marvin Lewis...

It drives me nuts when teams call a timeout to prevent a 5-yard delay of game penalty.

"Under no circumstances is anyone but the head coach to use a timeout," Fisher said. "There are a lot of considerations. Are you better off taking a delay-of-game penalty on third-and-1 and going to third-and-6 than using a timeout early in a game? Does it make sense to challenge a spot on third down early in the game and risk losing a timeout?"

Lewis, as Mark Curnutte writes, allows his assistants to decide these things.

Cincinnati's Lewis relies on his assistant coaches - especially special-teams coach Darrin Simmons, who is on the sideline with Lewis and does not wear a headset. Simmons constantly reminds Lewis of game time, timeouts and challenges remaining, though Lewis said he also keeps track of such details in his head.

Curnutte gives us a perfect example as to why people are questioning Lewis' game management decisions.

...icing Reed left Lewis with just one timeout for his offense. The Bengals moved 46 yards to the Pittsburgh 21-yard line, and Cincinnati called its third and final timeout after quarterback Carson Palmer spiked the ball to stop the clock. Shayne Graham missed an attempt at a winning 39-yard field goal, the game went in to overtime, and the Steelers won 23-17.

Having another timeout would have allowed the Bengals to run another play or two. But Lewis said the fact that his team needed only a field goal to win allowed him to ice Reed.

Lewis has done nothing but provide a sense of pride with the fans. But sometimes we forget he's only a four-year head coach. And a head coach of an NFL team requires time with experience to develop a sound strategy in games. Look at some of the more established coaches: Jeff Fisher has coached 13 seasons; Mike Holmgren for 15 seasons; Mike Shanahan for 14 seasons. These guys have experience that Lewis does not. It will grow with time and hopefully, with the Cincinnati Bengals. Unrelated note: Tom Landry has 21 post season wins -- the all-time record.

More killer stats from Mark Curnutte that questions half-time adjustments. Here's the footnotes:

  • Bengals led opponents in the first half, 197-126. Bengals, in the second half, were outscored 205-176. If you take away the 42 points by the Chargers, the Bengals outscore their opponents 176-163.
  • Bengals were: 1-4 trailing at half-time, 2-6 trailing after three, 1-3 when points decided by three or less and 2-5 when points decided by seven or less. "In four seasons under Lewis, the Bengals are 6-20 when trailing at halftime and 5-24 when trailing after three quarters."

Decisions, decisions [Enquirer]
Would you make the call? [Enquirer]