The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off of back-to-back playoff seasons for the first time in three decades, and are favored to not only make their third-in-a-row, but even make a deep run in the playoffs. The problem is, they haven’t won a playoff game since 1991, and are 0-4 in the postseason under head coach Marvin Lewis. He is also one of just two coaches to coach one team for 10 seasons and fail to win a playoff game. Last year was the closest he’s been, and had Andy Dalton thrown an accurate pass to a wide-open A.J. Green in the end-zone, we wouldn’t even be talking about this.
But such is life in the NFL, and Lewis needs to win a playoff game this year, or be regarded as a coach who simply can’t get his teams over the playoff hump.
Mora’s tenure with the Saints serves as a solid comparison. Like Lewis, he had built a reputation as a talented defensive coach, and Mora took his team to the USFL Championship Game in all three years of the league’s existence. Mora’s team won the USFL title in ’84 and ’85, and then — like Lewis — was asked to turn around one of the league’s perpetual doormats, the Saints. He took the Saints to the playoffs four times and revived the franchise, but was fired in his eleventh season at the age of 61. At 55, Lewis is a bit younger, but this appears to be a make-or-break season for him with the Bengals. Since 1991, every team in the NFL has won a playoff game except for the Bengals. Cincinnati had one of the youngest teams in the league last year, added weapons Tyler Eifert and Gio Bernard in the NFL Draft, and are perhaps the third-best team in a watered down AFC. The Bengals have made the playoffs the last two years, but will 2013 be the year the streak ends?
Unless the Bengals find a way to lose 11 or more games this year, I can’t really him not being back next year. Mike Brown doesn’t want to pay a coach under contract in 2014 while he’s out of work, and Brown is indebted to Lewis for helping pull the Bengals out of the cellar of the NFL’s bottom dwellers.
Still, being in the same class of ineptitude as Jim Mora is not exactly something you want to be a part of. Lewis needs a playoff win badly this year, or that’s how he’ll be remembered.