I've heard quite a bit of chatter about Marvin Lewis this week from Bengals fans. And no, I don't believe any of the things said were positive.
And they shouldn't be, right? The guy is supposed to be the leader of a team trying to make its fourth straight appearance in the NFL playoffs, and here we are, watching a team repeatedly fail in the big games, including those we're supposed to win.
He should be on the hot-seat, right? Right along side the Bears coaching staff and that of the Jets.
Except that the Jets just got their second win of the season, and the Bears are surrounded by a puddle of mediocrity that has probably already doomed their season. The Bengals are on the brink of another playoff run, very much in the thick of things in a tough AFC North division. Marvin Lewis isn't going anywhere.
Lewis is dealing with the loss of both his offensive and defensive coordinators this year, one that is probably for the better, the other...well, maybe not so much. We already know who is who and what is what with that situation, so I won't bore you.
My point is that this year is not Lewis' fault, nor does the blame fall on him more than on anyone else. Dealing with a whole host of changes in the staff is enough to derail many teams. Because of the talent already on the team, Cincinnati was able to avoid that. But the growing pains were inevitable. The inability to win big games and the inconsistency is expected, to some extent, given the situation.
Now, this is not to excuse the playoff losses in the past, and Bengals fan surely realize those inconsistencies have occurred before this season. While that may be so, Marvin Lewis should not be the only recipient of blame here. With a complete shift in offensive scheming and a defense that has experienced injuries all season, there's only so much you can expect out of a team, no matter how much talent may be on it. To play devil's advocate to the position I normally take on the lack of consistency, the Bengals are in fact still playing for the AFC North crown. I'm trying my best not to forget that.
But regardless, whether or not the Bengals make the playoffs, and whether or not they win a playoff game, rest assured they will likely be in a similar situation next year, and Marvin Lewis will be right there where they left him.
And yes, it's probably for the best.