Following the Cincinnati Bengals’ preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, head coach Marvin Lewis spoke to the media with all the ambiguity, doublespeak, and distracting chuckles we’ve come to expect from the master of verbal illusion. Luckily, using deep meditation and my multiple language skills, I’ve been able to interpret Lewis’ words for all of you, which I’ll be doing on a weekly basis this season.
Marvin Lewis: “We had a good opportunity tonight to take a deep look at the kickers, and that was good.”
TRANSLATION: Stop laughing at us. Just stop. Please.
Commentary: Why would a head coach’s first words in a press conference be about kickers? The Bengals are hoping that the laughter will stop after the circus of insults that took place on the field last season. Mike Nugent was cut after having flopped on no less than SIX extra points last year. All hopes will be pinned on either 27-year-old Randy Bullock or rookie Jake Elliott, drafted in the fifth round this year by the Bengals—the first kicker selected. Lewis likes a good chuckle, mainly to throw off reporters, but does not appreciate sarcastic guffaws. By the way, when asked which kicker is in the lead, Lewis commented that it’s “fairly tight.” Pure Marvin! Which one is tight, o captain our captain, your lips, or the competition?!
Question: “How did you feel about how Joe Mixon did, especially in his pass protection?”
ML: “I can’t tell you. Sorry. [Bashful, coy, and ultimately disarming smile.]”
Question: “Well, how about overall?”
ML: “Well, you know, just, his touches, the ball, I thought he did a good job, but, we’ll make sure he’s on track, and not rushing it, and so forth, but, you know, he did a nice job, and I know he’s just one ankle from having an opportunity to have a little bit more.”
TRANSLATION: I’m a nice-guy sort of coach, and I don’t want Jeremy Hill to start crying, but you know—and I know—that Mixon will start. The man’s a maniac, even with just one ankle. So don’t ask.”
COMMENTARY: The media knows Lewis will not answer a question about the running back position. Not his style. So instead Lewis was asked about blocking and tried to pull an ML on ML. Ha! Nice one. Not happening. ML offered a smile, let the media know this press conference was not about sharing information, but drinking from the cup of his charm, and proceeds to say only one thing: Yeah, I saw what you saw. This kid, Joe Mixon, is as great as I knew he’d be when I drafted him. But I’m still as conservative a head coach as I’ve always been, and you and all your silly friends with the microphones and pencils will need to wait and see like everyone else. But 31 yards on six rushes AFTER an injury? Even ML had to smile about that one and hint that there might be “a little bit more.”
Question: “I imagine you’re pretty happy not to see too many hits on your quarterbacks, particularly in the first quarter.”
ML: “Yeah, obviously we don’t want the quarterback touched, so it’s a good thing.”
TRANSLATION: We won’t invest in an offensive line, but, of course, we do invest in padding and wish our quarterbacks the best.
The Bengals went from having the 13th-ranked offensive line in the NFL (by PFF), to suddenly having the SECOND WORST offensive line in the NLF (also per PFF). Yes, my coworker John Sheeran is right (see the video below): Andy Dalton knows how to get rid of the ball quickly. But on those rare occasions when he cannot, we might expect to see plenty of sacks, and—in the press conferences that follow those sacks—plenty of endearing (shall I say entrancing?) smiles by the Master of Mystery, Marvin Lewis.