The Bengals’ Week 5 clash with the Cowboys was supposed to be a great matchup of two teams that looked like playoff contenders, and may even be good enough to make a Super Bowl push.
Dallas certainly looked the part on Sunday. Meanwhile, Cincinnati looked like an unprepared, disinterested football team that was perfectly happy to spot the home team a 28-0 lead.
That led to head coach Marvin Lewis catching a lot of heat on Monday, including this from ESPN talking head Stephen A. Smith.
Smith praised the Bengals for the amount of talent they have, which is enough that you would think this would be a title contender, but for whatever reason, they aren’t looking like one. Smith singled out Lewis as the reason why, and the ESPN analyst can’t understand how Lewis has kept his job through an 0-7 playoff record and shortcomings like what we saw on Sunday in Dallas.
You’d have thought the Cowboys were playing against air on offense with as little resistance as they got against what’s been a top-10 Bengals defense. Cincinnati seemed content with the Cowboys doing anything and everything they wanted for nearly three quarters
The offense wasn’t much better, but they at least moved the ball into Dallas territory in each of their first two drives. They also got to midfield right before the first half ended, and they only had four total possessions in the first half.
You’d like to think Lewis would have had some combination of courage, awareness, and confidence in his team to go for it on fourth down in at least one of those drives. He either lacked the courage to do so, wasn’t confident his team could execute, or simply lacked the awareness to see the game was getting away from the Bengals and they needed something to change the momentum.
Whatever it was, Lewis failed as a coach on Sunday. He deserves all of the criticism he gets because of it.
The good news is, Lewis and the Bengals will have a chance to change the narrative as they travel to New England in Week 6. A win would go a long way; that’s for certain.