When it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals, there aren’t many laurels to hang for fans, in terms of its franchise history. Yes, the team made two Super Bowls in the 1980s and had five consecutive playoff berths from 2011-2015, but their lack of postseason success defines the club.
Even so, the team isn’t without its history. Paul Brown was an innovator of modern professional football and his coaching tree included names like Bill Walsh and Sam Wyche.
One of the most successful trees in all of football right now is one created by Bill Parcells. Coaches who received their start under the staunch old coach include proteges like Bill Belichick and in a roundabout way, Nick Saban.
Yeah, they’re pretty good.
And, even though Marvin Lewis came from a coaching tree that pumps with AFC North blood, he’s created his begun to create own. After spawning a run of six playoff berths from 2009-2015, a number of Bengals assistant coaches finally began to get their due.
By now, most Bengals fans know everything that comes with Lewis’ resume with the Bengals. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in wins with 125 and has led the Bengals to seven playoff berths in 15 seasons, but is also winless in those uber-important contests.
So, given the amount of guys who received head coaching nods after stints in Cincinnati under Lewis as assistants, we almost wonder if Lewis, like Parcells, is even the best coach on the tree he has built. Here is a look at some of the others:
Mike Zimmer: In four seasons as the Vikings’ head coach, the former Bengals defensive coordinator is 39-25 and 1-2 in the postseason. He led the Vikings to the NFC Championship game this past season, though they were stomped by the Eagles in Philadelphia.
Obviously, Zimmer has had struggles in the postseason like Lewis. Still, in four seasons he’s led them two three postseason berths and further into the bracket than Lewis has ever led the Bengals. The quarterback position in Minnesota has also been a bit of a carousel, so Zimmer has had to over come that issue.
Hue Jackson: Opinions are totally mixed on Jackson. Is he more like the coach who led the Raiders to a respectable 8-8 season, only to unfairly get run out of town? Or, is he more like the guy who has just one win with the Browns in two seasons and was the architect of the infamous Carson Palmer trade?
Maybe it’s somewhere in between, but one thing is certain: between the Browns, Bengals and Raiders, Jackson has had to coach through some major organizational hurdles. Some believe that Cleveland is going to take a major step forward this year and it’s a pretty unanimous opinion that he’s a good offensive coordinator, but 2018 will be big for his coaching career.
Jay Gruden: There is no doubt that his last name carries major weight around the league. After molding Andy Dalton into a Pro Bowl quarterback, Washington scooped him up and he’s been there for the past four seasons.
With Kirk Cousins at the helm, Gruden has compiled a 28-35-1 record, with one postseason appearance. They lost their only playoff game back in 2015 and it will be interesting to see what he can do with Alex Smith now under center.
Vance Joseph: Having the former Bengals defensive backs coach on here and an argument for him is more about potential. He’s the youngest of the group and he has league-wide respect. In fact, when he was in Cincinnati, Dre Kirkpatrick called him one of the greatest coaches he’s ever played for in his football career.
Still, one season in to being a head coach and there is some major pressure coming from Denver. The Broncos finished just 5-11 in Joseph’s inaugural campaign, though they too had some quarterback issues in 2017.
Who’s the best coach on the Marvin Lewis coaching tree?
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