The partnership between Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton defined the 2010s for the Cincinnati Bengals. Dalton and A.J. Green are often grouped together as a duo, but the head coach and quarterback pairing is what truly drives an organization to its on-field successes and failures.
Lewis and Dalton had success together. Five straight playoff appearances is nothing to outright dismiss. The three-straight losing seasons following them ultimately saw Lewis terminated by the front office, and that none of those previous playoff games resulted in wins created the mixed legacies both men have in Cincinnati. Their failures are just as memorable as their achievements.
Dalton’s lack of success in January was the topic of a question asked by ProFootballTalk during a phone interview with Lewis, who took the high road in answering it.
“Andy’s contribution was not a negative ever in the playoffs,” Lewis said. “But he gets blamed for it, even though I should get the blame as the coach.”
The thing about blame is that it doesn’t always fall on one individual. Yes, the quarterback is the most valuable player on the field, and when he falters, he deserves the most blame on the roster. Lewis is certainly aware of his own shortcomings in the biggest games, but we have eyes, too.
No matter who held the title of head coach, Dalton still earned the criticism he received for his playoff woes. Is it nice that Lewis ultimately fell on the grenade in this instance? Sure. Is it entirely accurate? Not to the people who watched it all unfold.
But Lewis didn’t answer the phone with the intention of disparaging his former quarterback; not when he was just released by his former team.
“Wherever he ends up,” Lewis said of Dalton, “he’ll be an asset.”
The Dallas Cowboys inked Dalton to a one-year deal to be just that. As the backup to franchise player Dak Prescott, Dalton now finds himself in an ideal spot with a great roster in a location close to his home in Texas. If all goes well, the 10-year veteran will enter the free agent market next offseason with opportunities for a bigger payday.
Maybe Lewis will re-join him somewhere else in the NFL in due time.