Marvin Lewis’ press conference on Monday afternoon was supposed to usher in the beginning of a new era in Cincinnati.
Instead, we are right back where we were four weeks ago. Will Marvin Lewis remain the coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, or has this season been his last?
No answers to that question were forthcoming, but here are five things that did come out of the press conference:
Lewis and Mike Brown met
Whatever else occurred, no decisions have apparently been made regarding Lewis’ potential return as head coach.
“We haven’t talked about a deal,” Lewis said. “We discussed the football team this morning. We didn’t talk about Marvin or anything else other than the football team.”
And there is apparently no timetable as to when a decision might be reached.
“I don’t think it will draw on too long,” he said. “We’ll continue to talk. I wish I could give you more news, but I can’t.”
Lewis does not appear to be in any hurry to force a decision one way or the other.
“I don’t know there is a delay,” he explained. “This isn’t a paper route. There are things both of us want to feel good about. “People have their viewpoints, I have my viewpoints. There is a direction owner has to have. He has hired me to do a job and have to make sure we’re all on the same page.”
Players stepped up
While everyone wanted to talk about Lewis’ future, he wanted to talk about the Bengals’ win in Baltimore, and how guys like Darqeuze Dennard stepped up and made big plays at the perfect time.
“I told them [before the game] that there were a couple of things we needed to get done. We had to win the takeaway margin. Darqueze did that when he turned it [the interception] into a touchdown. And being effective in the running game (which the Bengals were, especially in the first half).
Lewis wanted to avoid the big play, which the Bengals were successful at doing. Their defense was smothering in the first half before falling off in the second half. Still, Cincinnati made the Ravens work for every inch of ground.
And, for the first time in a long time, it was the Bengals who made the big play at the end.
“After we lost to the Steelers, the sky didn’t fall in,” he said. “We still had an opportunity to control things. And these guys have to understand that. You’ve got to get back up, get back focused and go on to win the next one. Had we done that, we’d still be working.”
After the heartbreaking loss to the Steelers, Cincinnati was blown out at home against the Bears, then embarrassed on the road at Minnesota. But the Bengals rebounded to win the last two games and provide some optimism for the future.
“There were so many young guys in that room,” Lewis said. “It was good for those guys to sink their teeth in and understand the opportunity we lost. As they go off, they’ve got to remember what it takes and get ready to go again when that opportunity comes.
“Our season was not what we wanted. With the changes we made offensively, there have been some ups and downs. But I was pleased to finish the season with the way the guys did.”
Assistants in limbo
Like Lewis, none of the assistant coaches are under contract for next season. Some of them are probably being considered for positions with other teams as the wait continues. At least one rumor has Jon Gruden interested in Bengals’ defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, should Gruden become head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
“It is hard,” Lewis said. “I met with the assistants this morning about it. I told them I would get them where things are as quick as I could. It’s unfortunate they’re stuck in this limbo. It makes for some urgency for both parties. They’re basically free agents, as well.”
Real fans should take heart
Whether Lewis returns to coach the Bengals, there is no arguing the fact that he has always had the best interest of the city and its fans at heart. His charity, the Marvin Lewis Community Fund, has become a fixture in the community and has helped countless young people through education and initiatives.
“If you’re a real fan, just stay the course,” Lewis said. “Understand that we’re not happy. If I’m back, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure we’re world champions. That’s why I do what I do. We’ll go back to work and build a better football team, one that will win games.”
Is it possible to get back to the winning ways of 2011 through 2015?
“We’re not gonna get back,” Lewis said. “We have to build better. We have to build a team that can win this division, and we’re not there. Then we have to build a team that can win the AFC.”
Players play, and coaches coach
“We’ve gotta do a better job of coaching them,” Lewis said of what he still considers to be a very talented roster. The evolution of a player changes from year to year.
“Hopefully, we have helped them grow up as young men. This is their job, and I approach them with that all of the time – you have to understand, you are a professional athlete. Each and every day you have to come to work and make it your best.”
Lewis certainly appreciates the effort his players have given him, even though the results have not been what he and everyone else had hoped for over the last two years. And he told the players that when he met with them before his press conference.
“You’ve worked your tails off for me,” Lewis said he told them. “But if ever change happens, you’ll have to take it and move on.”
The results of the past two weeks have certainly given a glimpse into what might have been, and what this team can be like in the future.
“I think Mike was pleased with the football team the last two weeks,” Lewis said. “I guess the character within the group showed out, which is good.”
For now, Marvin Lewis is the coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I’m sitting here today in front of you and I don’t know what there is to be said,” Lewis concluded. This is the only team right now I am employed by.”