Certain numbers are popular in Bengaldom today. “Six” and “zero” are big, being the number of division wins and losses, respectively, that the Bengals have rung up this season. “Three” is also popular, as it’s the team’s “magic number.” Any combination of Cincinnati wins and Steelers/Ravens losses will secure the division for the officially upstart Bengals.
But there’s another, overlooked, number that deserves some attention today. Eight.
Eight is the number of win that the Bengals currently have — which means that Cincinnati will finish at least .500 this year, and will have finished .500 or better in five of the seven seasons of the Marvin Lewis era.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know: get to the point, Dave. It’s this: to find the last time the Bengals had just two clunkers (losing seasons, that is) in seven tries, you have to go all the way back to 1984-90, which comprises all but one year of Sam Wyche’s run as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. In that span, Wyche was 58-53, made the playoffs twice and the Super Bowl once.
In his seven years in the barrel, Lewis is (currently) 54-52, with one playoff appearance under his belt and a second coming this year, barring a monumental collapse.
Simply put, Bengals fans haven’t had it this good since the glory days of the Eighties. For all the justifiable criticism aimed at the front office in general and owner Mike Brown in particular, the fact is that Marvin & Co. have brought as good a football team to Cincinnati as the city has ever seen.
Now, before you send in those cards and letters accusing me of being Mikey’s love monkey, yes, I understand the “blind squirrel” objection. Marvin and Mike have hit here and there, you say, but have yet to build a consistent winner like Indianapolis and New England, teams that routinely amass double-digit wins every year. I agree. But that said, no one, not even the sainted Paul Brown, has been able to build a perennial winner in Cincinnati. Only two coaches in team history have even managed to string together back-to-back winning seasons: Brown in 1972 and 1973, and Forrest Gregg in 1981-82. And just once — once! — have the Bengals put together three straight winning campaigns, in 1975-77 under Brown and Tiger Johnson.
Whether Lewis can accomplish more than any other coach in team history, including its founder, remains to be seen. But what he’s already done this year just by getting to eight is worth noting. Kudos to the coach and the organization. They’re deserved.
As for the rest of this season, I can only repeat Marvin’s advice to his team:
Apropos of nothing update: Yep, Skip Bayless knows the NFL, eh? Eat kitty litter, you schmuck.