No one is quicker to admit how happy they are about Marvin Lewis' 13-year tenure with the Bengals than owner Mike Brown.
"He’s done remarkably well with our football team here, in recent years especially. I respect him. I like him personally," Brown told Jim Owczarski at the NFL's annual meetings.
And while Lewis is locked up with the Bengals through the 2016 NFL season, his future beyond this year is less certain.
"He’s going to be our coach this year," Brown said. "That’s in the bank."
The Bengals signed Lewis to one-year contract extensions during both the 2014 and 2015 season, ensuring he wouldn't be a lame duck coach, while not giving him a long-term extension either. The team could do the same this offseason after Lewis was unable to show an ability in the playoffs yet again.
Bengals fans tend to have mixed feelings toward Lewis' continued tenure with the team. More than half of Cincy Jungle readers who voted in our Marvin Lewis approval poll though Lewis did a good enough job in 2015. This past season saw the Bengals match their best ever regular season record (12-4), yet still fell short of winning in the first round of the playoffs.
This has been the story throughout Lewis' entire career in Cincinnati. The Bengals will generally perform well in the regular season, as evidenced by Lewis' all time record with the team (112-94-2), but they tend to flop when the bright lights turn on. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the postseason, where Lewis' record with the team is a dismal 0-7. The playoff defeat alone is probably one of the biggest reasons why 21 percent of Cincy Jungle readers rated Lewis' 2015 performance as 'bad' or 'awful'.
It can be hard to look past the fact that the Bengals looked so unprepared for success at the end of the 2015 Wild Card playoff game. They essentially sealed their win with a Vontaze Burfict interception and then grasped defeat from the jaws of victory 74 seconds later with a Jeremy Hill fumble and a pair of personal fouls from Burfict and Adam Jones.
Still, they put a dominant product on the field for most of the regular season behind Andy Dalton, under Lewis, and managed to remain competitive behind AJ McCarron. Were it not for a fumble in overtime of their Week 16 game in Denver and the devastating but very brief collapse in the playoffs, the Bengals could have been in the AFC Championship game with a legitimate chance to go to the Super Bowl.
For that reason, you'd expect the already-impressed Brown to look forward to extending Lewis' contract past the 2016 season. He certainly sounds optimistic about Lewis' chances, but he was a bit cautionary when discussing actually resigning Lewis.
"It's a process," he said, "We seem to go through our own dance."
Bringing up the illusion of a 'dance' might sound non-committal on Brown's end, but that very same 'dance' is exactly what has led to Lewis being the current second longest tenured head coach in the NFL. The only coach tenured longer is Bill Belichick, who has an all time record of 187-69 in the regular season with the Patriots. He also has 13 division championships in 15 seasons on top of six conference championships and four Super Bowl wins. Add to that a 22-9 record in the playoffs and Lewis' career with the Bengals looks simply mediocre by comparison.
Either way, Brown doesn't seem interested in moving on from Lewis any time soon. His comments seem to confirm that, although he admits that anything could happen.
"Where it goes," Brown said, "we'll see how it plays out."