Marvin Lewis can't catch a break. After losing his seventh of seven playoff games as a head coach, the media and fans have grilled Lewis for his apparent inability to win meaningful games.
ESPN's NFL Nation recently polled NFL players on several topics, one being which head coach should've won a Super Bowl by now. 19 percent of the players polled responded with Lewis' name. Andy Reid came in at 18 percent as the next most popular answer.
The fact that Marvin Lewis is entering his 14th season with the Cincinnati Bengals is surprising, whether you're a Bengals fan or not. Coaches rarely last more than 10 years with a team, especially when they've never won a Super Bowl, let alone a playoff game.
But let's face facts here, the Cincinnati Bengals were a laughingstock before Lewis took over. Lewis has taken his team to seven playoff appearances in 13 seasons as a coach and has only had three losing seasons. Under Lewis, the Bengals have the same number of playoff appearances and Super Bowl wins as the franchise had in its previous 35-year history.
For comparison's sake, Tom Coughlin had four losing seasons in 12 years with the New York Giants (although his two Lombardi trophies certainly played a part in him sticking around), Jeff Fisher is still employed after five straight losing seasons with multiple teams (and two winning seasons since 2004) and Andy Reid lasted 13 seasons in Philadelphia before going 4-12 in his final season and finding a new home in Kansas City.
What's the point of mentioning all of this? Fisher, Reid and even John Fox are all in the same boat as Marvin Lewis. They're coaches who have enjoyed long careers due to vast regular season success but haven't been able to hoist the coveted Lombardi trophy.
Yet, because Lewis has lasted in Cincinnati, and because he's been a part of the staff that has assembled what many consider to be the deepest team in football, he's the center of attention, while coaches like Fisher enjoy employment and are able to stay out of headlines despite consistently losing.
The Bengals embrace continuity, and while continuity hasn't directly translated into playoff wins, it has helped the Cincinnati Bengals become one of the NFL's best teams on a consistent basis. And while playoff losses are frustrating, they are a testament to the team's consistent regular season success. When a team makes the playoffs frequently, that team has a better chance of winning the Super Bowl. Look at the past 10 Super Bowl champions for more evidence: of the 10 most recent Super Bowl victors, only the Steelers (in Super Bowl XLIII) boasted a coach who had been tenured for less than four years.
Some people say that the healthiest team of an NFL season is the team that hoists the Lombardi trophy, and if that saying is true, it's no wonder the Bengals haven't won a Super Bowl under Lewis. During his tenure, the team has missed key players in almost every playoff game. In 2013, Geno Atkins tore his ACL. In 2014, Marvin Jones, Tyler Eifert, A.J. Green, Vontaze Burfict, Jermaine Gresham and several others watched from the sidelines or their own couches. In 2015, Andy Dalton fractured his thumb and missed Wild Card weekend. Maybe it's just bad luck that has caused such an unfortunate string of losses to occur. But one thing's for certain: Cincinnati should not fire Marvin Lewis.
If the Bengals were to fire Marvin Lewis, they'd have to digest an entirely new playbook, they'd stunt Andy Dalton's progression as a quarterback and they'd sacrifice the possibility of winning a Super Bowl with one of the most talented rosters in football. Continuity has made this team what it is, and firing Lewis (or even moving him to the personnel side of the team) would all but destroy the possibility the Bengals have of winning a Super Bowl in the Dalton era.