Week 1 of an NFL season provides a lot of talking points, but some could also deem the first contest as an incomplete grading process of a squad. Teams have yet to fully work out kinks, new faces are finding their niche, and one bad week can lead to knee-jerk reactions.
Enter ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
Smith, a popular figure on the four-letter network’s First Take program, has long been critical of the Cincinnati Bengals and their head coach. Like the time he went after Vontaze Burfict after he was recently suspended.
Or the time he called Bengals fans “suckers”. What about the time he said the team embarrassed the league in London when they tied with the Washington Redskins last year?
We know that Smith is a bit of a carnival barker, but he’s at it again after the Bengals’ 2017 season-opening embarrassment at the hands of the Ravens. The guy who spouts off long-winded adjectives like Don King called Marvin Lewis’ continuing tenure as the Bengals’ head coach an “abomination”.
“You’ve had 14 years and you can’t win a playoff game? The culture has been suspect, which we all know, then you come into this season and Andy Dalton looks like straight garbage yesterday, but that’s predictable because going against the Ravens is always tough for him because they know him from within the division, they can figure him out,” Smith said.
“But, it still speaks to what’s going on with Marvin Lewis. They need another coach because you need to send a message to the city of Cincinnati that we’re going to prioritize a new vision,” Smith continued.
Co-host Max Kellerman made some decent points to back up Smith’s take, however he stated that the Ravens “positively have the Bengals’ number in recent years”. Unfortunately, Mr. Kellerman failed to note that the series is tipped 5-2 towards Cincinnati’s favor since 2014.
Smith’s rant also centered on the opinion that Bengals management is sending a message to the city and its fans that they don’t care about winning. It’s long been a criticism of the Brown family, even though that stigma has been erased a bit in recent years.
Unless the rest of the season completely unravels, it’s hard to believe the Bengals will fire Lewis midseason. He’s already in the final year of his current contract, pointing to management finally giving some sort of an ultimatum to the head coach.
Smith’s ranting at the Bengals’ expense and the debate on Lewis isn’t a new topic. The Week 1 loss didn’t play into Smith’s most recent calling for Lewis’ head, but it is convenient timing.
One of the narratives Lewis and the Bengals have a chance at turning around occurs this Thursday. Lewis, Dalton and the rest of the team have struggled on the biggest stages and they play a ferocious Houston Texans defense on Thursday Night Football. A short turnaround might be just the thing to get the team’s mind off of the loss to the Ravens, but it’s also a potential recipe for more sloppy play and further Lewis criticism.
What side of the fence are you on with Stephen A. Smith’s recent calling for Lewis’ firing?