Marvin Lewis is under virtually no threat to be fired by the Cincinnati Bengals anytime soon.
Though, you wouldn’t know it if you paid much attention to the speculation surrounding his job during the past couple of months, and years. Back in late December, there were rumors that he was planning to retire at the end of 2016. Then, a few days later, he addressed that speculation by denying it entirely. Nearly a month after all of that, he discussed his desire to sign another contract extension with the team this offseason. It is a controversial subject for the Bengals, although we do know Andy Dalton likes the idea of Lewis sticking around.
“I’m definitely relieved. Just the continuity and all the stuff he’s been able to do, since I’ve been there,” Dalton told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk of Lewis. “I think it’s just going to make us a better team rather than having some kind of turnover.”
Whether or not you agree with his perspective, it is easy to understand where the Bengals’ quarterback is coming from. All Dalton has known in the NFL has been Lewis and the Bengals. For the most part, that pairing has been a successful one. At least, since Dalton has been in the NFL, and, during the regular season.
“I came in with no expectations that first year, we were able to make the playoffs. We’ve had a good run of that since,” Dalton said. “Obviously this year we weren’t able to make it back there, the first time that’s happened for the team since I’ve been there. I feel like I’ve had a lot of success.”
Under different circumstances, that perspective would make sense. Yes, the Bengals had a bad season in 2016, but one bad season is no reason to oust the head coach, who has seen so much success throughout the rest of his tenure. However, Lewis’ success was spotty at best before Dalton showed up and even the Bengals have had great regular-season success, five straight one-and-done playoff seasons and zero playoff wins in Lewis’ tenure are too much to ignore, and provide plenty of reason for the Bengals to part ways with the head coach.
Sure, Lewis was given the monumental task of rebuilding the Cincinnati Bengals from their abysmal ‘90s form. But, two playoff appearances in seven years wasn’t anything to be particularly excited about prior to the Dalton-era. That said, as Dalton continued to point out, you have to give Lewis credit for the respectably consistent results since Dalton joined the team in 2011.
“For us, we feel like we’ve been able to build and get better. It was unfortunate, two years ago, I had the injury and wasn’t able to finish out the season,” Dalton said. “It felt like we had a really good team and we really had a chance to make a run at it. But, that was just kind of part of it.”
However, as nice as it is to have that success, even Dalton understands why the criticism exists and why Lewis’ tenure with the team is so controversial.
“Obviously, you want to win when you get into the playoffs,” Dalton said. “Every team but one says ‘man, we could have gotten it done that year.’ Only one team is at the end celebrating.“
Lewis’ status with the team is clearly safe for now. The Bengals traditionally try to avoid major changes, sometimes more successfully than others. The team will likely continue to bring Lewis back as long as the players in the locker room have his back and the team is a playoff contender in more years than not.
“One thing that was different this year than in year’s past is we were winning all the close games,” Dalton said of prior years. “This year, it didn’t happen for us. So, we need to make those plays when it really matters. Then, it’ll allow us to get to the playoffs. At the end of the day, we have to be playing our best football come January. That’s one thing that we haven’t done and it’s hurt us, obviously.”