The Bengals are coming off another loss after surrendering 18 consecutive points to the Steelers to lose the game. In the wake of the loss, head coach Marvin Lewis was asked about specifics and playing for the future. Seeing the Steelers’ kicker make six of six field goals, and the Bengals’ new kicker Randy Bullock successfully hit on all four of his kicks, it’s unfortunate nobody asked why they held onto Mike Nugent for so long. But it seems that relevant, or more pointed questions are off the table for this weekly soiree.
Question: Was Pat Sims a victim of circumstances on his penalties?
Lewis response: It doesn’t matter, but I do think the center hitched the ball on the hard cadence with the head snap. It was missed. You can see it on our video, you saw it last night, and on the TV copy. That happens. We have to move on the ball and make sure we’re prepared for that situation, because it’s the kind of gamesmanship that can occur.
Commentary: As we saw in the playoff game last year, the Steelers are going to get the benefit of the doubt when the face the Bengals. That’s just the way the world works.
Question: Is there any thought with the playoffs out of the picture of playing the young guys ...
Lewis response: No. My thought is to win these next two football games with the best players we can put out there to play. That’s what we owe to everybody. This isn’t junior high school.
Commentary: When you are a bad coach having a bad season, the motivation is to keep your job. Therefore Lewis has no motivation to use game time for developing younger players, who he may be developing for the next coach. It’s in the best interest of the team, but not of the head coach.
Question: Does the message change at all these next two games?
Lewis response: I think they understand it. We’ll carry it and get prepared to play. We haven’t won in Houston often, so that matters to me
Commentary: The Bengals are 2-3 in Houston against the Texans, including a victory their last time down. So Lewis is correct they haven’t won in Houston often, but that’s only because they just don’t play down there often. It’s possible that Lewis is referring to the 10 game stretch from 1985 to 1994, when the Bengals lost in Houston (to the Oilers) for 10 consecutive games, but it’s highly doubtful that Lewis is addressing something from more than two decades ago.
Question: If you win out, you finish 4-1 in the last five. Is that something to build on for next year?
Lewis response: We have some players that will be here next season that have never experienced a non-playoff season. That will be good for them. We have this young group of guys who have never been out of the playoffs. To win four out of five is a big thing for them, and it will matter.
Commentary: Winning out would mean losing out on a better draft prospect for next year. And the guys who don’t return next year probably won’t care when they are retired or with their new teams. So the question seems to be whether the psyche of the returning players is so fragile that a strong finish is necessary for them to succeed the following season.
Question: How long do you dwell on a season like this?
Lewis response: I have to be over it tomorrow. I have to pump life tomorrow. I’ll be blowing air tomorrow. Today I can be upset.
Commentary: There is something about pumping life and blowing air which just seems too odd for him to say. Even if he were just trying to fill Tom Brady’s underinflated balls, or blow up some balloons for Christmas, it sounds odd.