If you've kept up on the series in which I've counted down the top-five coaches in Bengals history, you know that Bill "Tiger" Johnson was No. 5 and Forrest Gregg came in at No. 4. Obviously it's time for No. 3 and this one's going to turn some heads. The third greatest coach in Bengals history is non other than Marvin Lewis.Yes, Forrest Gregg took the Bengals to the Super Bowl and Marvin Lewis has failed to win a playoff game in his eight seasons as Bengals head coach. One would think that because of this fact, Gregg should be above Lewis on the countdown, but, two things, in my opinion, put the current coach at No. 3.
First, Lewis has the second most wins of any coach in Bengals history (60) after Sam Wyche (61). Lewis brought the Bengals from their worst decade, the 90s, and created an expectation of winning in Bengals fans. It began with a couple consecutive 8-8 seasons (2003, 2004) and then exploded with the 2005 season in which the Bengals went 11-5 and won their division and went to the playoffs for the first time since 1990. Unfortunately, Carson Palmer was injured early in that 2005 home playoff game against the Steelers and ended up losing the game.
Since then, Lewis has led the Bengals to the playoffs on more time in 2009 and won coach of the year honors, but the Bengals also lost their home playoff game against the Jets that year too.
The second reason that I believe Lewis belongs at No. 3 in this list is because he did all of this under. Since Brown took over for his father, Paul Brown, in 1991, they Bengals have only had two winning seasons, both under Lewis. Lewis has somehow been able to create winning teams despite having Brown, who is largely to blame for the miserable play of the Bengals in the 90s, as an owner and general manager. No other coach in Mike Brown's tenure as owner of the Bengals has been able to do the same.
So, even though Lewis doesn't have a Super Bowl game under his belt, the fact that he's been able to do what he's done while still being under Mike Brown's heavy thumb is pretty impressive.
Lewis signed a contract extension with the Bengals after the 2010 season ended and will continue to lead the Bengals at least through 2011.