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Is Marvin Lewis on the hot seat?

For Marvin Lewis, the firing of Teryl Austin could be a desperate attempt to save his job

New Orleans Saints v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Now that the Bengals have fired two coordinators in their last 24 games, is there reason for Marvin Lewis to worry about his own job security?

Lewis has had some great assistants in the past that have helped him take the Bengals to multiple playoff appearances. Mike Zimmer, Jay Gruden, and Hue Jackson were all successful coordinators for the Bengals before leaving to become head coaches. Dating back to last year however, it seems that Lewis’ luck (or maybe the list of good coaches he knows) has run out. The Bengals fired Ken Zampese in 2017 after 18 games as the offensive coordinator and have now fired Teryl Austin nine games into his stint with the Bengals.

In their first 49 years, the Bengals had never fired a coordinator midseason. Now they have done it in two consecutive seasons. Many people forget how Lewis turned the Bengals around — the team was a laughing-stock in the 90s. They had some good offensive players from time to time, but their defense was atrocious. Hiring Lewis changed that, until this season.

Lewis took a team that was a Browns-level laughingstock and in just three years they won the AFC North for the first time in 15 years. He has led the team to four total divisional titles and seven playoff appearances. The Bengals went to the playoffs for five straight years, but are 18-22-1 in the 2-plus seasons since their last playoff game.

Many Bengals fans have joked (partially) that Marvin Lewis had a lifelong contract or stated that Mike Brown and his family would never be the ones to break off the relationship. With the Bengals breaking their old mold by moving on from two coordinators midseason and moving on from longtime offensive line coach Paul Alexander in the offseason, the Bengals are showing that something is different.

Early in his tenure with the team, Lewis relieved Leslie Frazier of his duties as defensive coordinator, but that was after the season had ended. This is different. His sense of urgency to make these moves immediately speaks to one of two things: He is contemplating retirement very soon and wants to make a meaningful run at a Super Bowl first, or he is feeling pressure from ownership to get back into the playoffs.

If Lewis’ main concern was winning, why would he fire Austin now instead of weeks ago? Lewis should have been working with Austin to improve the struggling defense and if he felt he needed to make a change he should have done it prior to the bye week.

Firing Austin after the second game where the defense gave up 40+ points and taking over the job himself heading into an easier stretch on the schedule seems like self-preservation.

This implies that Lewis is concerned about his own job. He may be sensing that the front office needs him to lead the Bengals back to the playoffs or win his first playoff game in order to maintain his employment.

But this is Bengals owner Mike Brown we’re alluding to, and assuming he’s capable of making a progressive move on his own accord is never a wise thing to do.