Watching the playoffs from home is painful for any NFL team to endure.
It hurts even worse when the teams still in the playoffs are clubs you’ve beaten recently. That’s the case with the Bengals who have had to watch the Dolphins, Steelers, Chiefs, Raiders, and Seahawks all make the playoffs this season.
Those are teams that Cincinnati has a combined five wins against since the start of the 2015 season. It stings seeing all of them pass Cincinnati in just one year, and it’s a sting everyone among the Bengals organization feels.
“It’s painful when there are teams playing that replaced us. It hurts. It ought to hurt,” Lewis told Bengals.com. “It ought to hurt every coach and player in this building.”
But even in the offseason, there’s no time for sulking as Lewis looks to get his team back into the postseason next year. Those efforts began the day after the 2016 regular season ended. It heats up over the next two weeks as Lewis and other NFL coaches get to scout the college all-star games, as well as doing some self-scouting.
“It’s important to do while fresh in our minds to go back and look at us,” Lewis said. “We’ll follow that up after Mobile when we have the opportunity to look at our peers around the league and what they do well. Then we’ll be getting into the areas of tweaking installation and how we do it.”
As for changes with players and coaches, Lewis admits that things will be different next year, including the schemes used.
“We’ll be vastly different no matter what. We’ll have some of the same players, but we know every year there is going to be a change of players,” Lewis said. “We rip things up scheme wise all the time. That’s no change.”
Hearing Lewis say the Bengals will be vastly different is somewhat encouraging to hear after a 6-9-1 season. Still, it’s all talk until those changes are actually made, especially when Lewis himself is coming back.
Rarely have the Bengals ever made “vast” changes in any regard under Lewis. They certainly have the opportunity to do so on defense with aging vets like Domata Peko hitting free agency, not to mention Adam Jones and Rey Maualuga being cap casualty candidates.
It also looks like Ken Zampese will be back calling the offense next year, despite having one of the worst scoring offenses of the Lewis era. Maybe that’s why the guy who turns 50 in July has never been a coordinator before this past season. He certainly looked like a guy who shouldn’t be calling offenses in the NFL, so here’s another chance for the Bengals to look “vastly” different”.
Until those changes are actually made, it’s hard to take anything Lewis says about changes with more than a grain of salt.