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Marvin Lewis wraps up 2016 season by talking players through frustration

Part of a coach’s job is to help players work through frustration when things don’t work out. In 2016, very little worked out for the Bengals.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

There is no need to explain how bad the 2016 season was for the Bengals. We were all there, we all saw the Bengals collapse from a franchise-best record with plenty of promise in 2015 to an embarrassing 6-9-1 record in 2016. As Bengals fans, we have experienced this before and we know how to handle it. It’s frustrating, but we know all about the process of figuring out what went wrong and how to fix it.

But, for many Bengals players, this is the first time they have experienced losing to this magnitude with the Bengals. Guys like A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, and Dre Kirkpatrick were drafted to the Bengals four or more ago, but have experienced nothing but winning seasons and playoff appearances during their time here. However, Marvin Lewis has been around the Bengals long enough to know all about both winning and losing seasons. This is the first time in a while he has had to wrap the season up before the playoffs start. But, the wrapping up process is vital to the players’ processes of coping and learning from this experience.

“I try to meet with each one. I kind of take a different approach with some of the young guys collectively, and then single out the ones I need to grab individually, like the rookies. It’s a lot of the same message for them, the rookies and practice squad guys, but I have to get some of them individually as well,” Marvin Lewis said in a press conference on Monday. ”And then the veteran guys, I grab them as they go. Unfortunately this last week, I had too much time on my hands, so we got started on it earlier in the week. I told guys to carve out time for me and come see me. ‘You know where I am. I’m easy to find.’ So it was a process that I started last Tuesday.”

Lewis sees the process of wrapping up after a frustrating season to be vital to the players’ continued development. Although the players are professionals and will continue to maintain a professional demeanor, there is no question that losing impacts their mental state. That’s why Lewis goes out of his way to make sure they know how to keep things in perspective.

“It sometimes goes overlooked, the emotional stress these players go through throughout the season,” Lewis said. “Too many times, the common thing is that the only association they have with this is being on a team in high school, and not the emotional stress of a career that can be very short-lived. There are stresses that come upon it that way, based on play time, injury, perception and all of those things.”

In certain cases, players have been used to nothing but success throughout their entire football careers. That’s why these meetings can be so important for those players.

“It’s very important,” Lewis said. “Look at Dre Kirkpatrick. He comes here with the expectations of Alabama and the great things he did there. He got injured as a rookie, and didn’t get to play. He got to play some his second year. Every day he was up and down. We laugh about it now. He gave up a touchdown pass the first game of that year. To me, he’s grown so much. He lives here, bought a house here. He’s a guy who has grown up, and it’s been so cool to be a part of and watch.”

Kirkpatrick, in particular, is one of the Bengals most established cornerbacks. Given recent events surrounding Adam Jones, he might soon be the most established cornerback on the team. In addition to helping players like Kirkpatrick work through frustration, Lewis knows that he must be prepared for the future, where he will be asked to become a mentor young players, if he re-signs with the Bengals, that is.

Ultimately, these meetings are about making sure everyone is on the same page. That certainly seemed to be the case on Sunday when the Bengals decisively beat the Ravens 27-10. The hope is that the meetings will reinforce that performance and allow us to see more of that in 2017.

“I could reinforce some things (laughs),” Lewis said. “But that was part of it, just reinforcing what we wanted to see on Sunday. I think they came through.”