There was plenty of speculation among fans and media as to why the Bengals decided to re-sign Marvin Lewis for two more seasons.
Many wondered if the team defeating the Lions and Ravens over the final two weeks may have saved his job. It made some sense when you take into account those two teams were fighting for playoff spots, so it wasn’t like Cincinnati beat up on the Browns.
Still, it is very weird to hear the way Mike Brown seemed to confirm that theory when he sat down with Geoff Hobson of the Bengals official site.
“We made some changes to do that. I respect that,” Brown said of the two wins that put the final record at 7-9. “I thought he took a team that was failing and turned it around the last couple of games. We didn’t get back quite to where I would like to see us, but we got back to a high enough level where we could play two good teams and beat them when they were on the spot to win.”
It is true that the Bengals played some of their best football all season in those final two games, and they did it when they were probably the most banged up. Clint Boling had to kick out to left tackle, and Giovani Bernard handled most of the work load after Joe Mixon dealt with a few injuries.
Still, it doesn’t quite answer the question why the rest of the season didn’t weigh more heavily than a few inspired games at the end of the season. The team twice had 0-3 stretches that ultimately crippled any playoff hopes they had, and they failed to beat the Steelers.
In fact, Brown talked a little bit about why he didn’t factor the squandered 17-point lead to the Steelers that could’ve saved the Bengals’ season as much as the two meaningless wins at the end of the season.
“In my heart of hearts, we should have done a little better than we did (in that game),” Brown told Hobson. “But I don’t have the feeling the player level was the determining factor in the game. Things conspired against us. I believe our talent level is equivalent to Pittsburgh, equivalent to Baltimore. Cleveland is on the way up. Don’t misjudge them.”
Excuse me while I bang my head against a wall.
He pretty much says right there that the players aren’t the problem. He is right too. The players got them there, but how the team failed to move the ball at all in the second half was dumbfounding. Seriously, all the offense needed to do was score once, but they hardly managed to even gain any first downs.
But if Brown really doesn’t think the players are the problem, and he doesn’t think Lewis is the problem, then I have to ask, what is the problem? Why bring back a coach who hasn’t done anything in 15 years after the regular season?
“I made the call for more than one reason,” Brown told the Bengals official site. “It gives us our best chance to be successful this coming season. Marvin gives us continuity. That’s important in this league. I also made the call because I felt he deserved consideration for all the time and effort he has put in here. He’s been our head coach for 15 years. That ought to be to his credit.”
“In my book (this season) was an aberration. I think it’s correctable. I think we can rebound quicker with Marvin than with anybody else … I think he deserved to be back because he’s put a lot of his life here, and that matters to me.”
There is so much wrong with all of this, especially the notion of continuity. The reason Lewis is the best man for the job is because he can keep this ship on the same course it has been on for the past 15 years.
I would get that line of thinking if the past 15 years included any sort of postseason success. Brown acts like last year was so weird, but the Bengals have done what they have usually done under Lewis. They beat up on the Browns, beat the Ravens at least once, and struggled with the Steelers.
To feel like Lewis has earned another two years after really not providing any success over the last 15 is just dumbfounding. He had 15 years. That is what he deserved. To treat it like he built this team, and that he deserves to stay with it until it sinks is just a frustrating reason for Lewis to be back.