Marvin Lewis continues to throw his players under the bus in the midst of a 3-6 season.
Earlier this week, it was Jeremy Hill who Lewis went out of his way to criticize and throw under the bus.
Now, it’s rookie wide receiver John Ross who Lewis is going after.
On Wednesday, Lewis made reference to a play in which Andy Dalton took a deep shot to Ross, who stopped running and then couldn’t speed up quickly enough to get to the ball. It seemed Ross was confused, as inexperienced rookies often are.
Lewis thought Ross should have caught the pass had he just kept running, and he’s letting everyone know it.
Marvin Lewis on John Ross: "He had a play last week we weren't very thrilled with ... For Andy against that coverage to throw him that football he should understand how the QB feels about him. He expects him to be where he needs to be. He let his teammates down. He let me down."— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) November 15, 2017
“He should understand how the QB feels about him,” Lewis said of Ross. “He (Dalton) expects him (Ross) to be where he needs to be. He let his teammates down. He let me down.”
So, Lewis is acknowledging that he’s “let down” by the Bengals’ rookie receiver. This feels like a different type of comment than we’ve seen from Lewis in past years and even past months when he’s been super conservative in publicly voicing his displeasure with specific players or even position groups.
Dalton also commented on the play following the Bengals’ loss to the Titans, but wasn’t nearly as harsh as Lewis.
“He had one-on-one and I was trying to give him a chance. It’s something that he will learn from,” Dalton said.
Ross acknowledged the play not succeeding was his fault.
“It was all my fault,” the rookie said. “I kind of messed up what I had to do. I think it’s a slim chance you’re supposed to do something like that. That was all my fault. It had nothing to do with Andy. I thought it was a great ball. I got to listen to what I was told and just continue to do it right.”
Lewis knows his seat is hot and his coaching tenure is nearing the end in Cincinnati, so why would he draft a player whose injury prone? That seems to be part of the reason why Ross has seen so little of the field. His NFL high is six snaps in a game.
I think Lewis’ disinterest in drafting Ross, yet the team still selecting him in Round 1, is why we’ve seen Lewis so reluctant to play a player like Ross who has seen very minimal game time.
At this point, we probably shouldn’t expect to see much of the rookie this year, at least as long as Lewis is running the show. Tyler Boyd may be ready to return from injury this week and it’s possible Ross will be made inactive in Denver as a result.
Expect this behavior to keep up for the remainder of the season. Maybe we’ll get lucky and see Lewis finally call out players who actually deserve it, a la Russell Bodine.
The irony of this is Ross may have very helped Lewis save his job if he were willing to play Ross more throughout the season. Sure, Ross has missed a lot of time and still has plenty of work to do, but there isn’t a written NFL rule that states you must play a player only after so many hours of practice.
We saw the Bengals use Ross in Week 2 against Houston on a nice end-around that netted 20 yards, but he was stripped from behind and lost the ball. Ross would be benched for the rest of the game in what turned into a 13-9 loss, in which one or two more big plays could have made it a win for the Bengals.
But Lewis stubbornly wasn’t willing to give Ross that chance, and the Bengals suffered a narrow defeat, which has been a theme this season.
It’s almost as if Lewis is ready to be shown the door and is doing his best to make sure it happens. He’s certainly sabotaged himself on several occasions this season.