Stripe Hype Roundtable: How far can the Bengals go with Marvin Lewis as the head coach?

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Shawn Maher

While Marvin Lewis might not be worthy of some of the criticism that he is receiving, he does lack a certain something that other coaches seem to have. He just does not have a knack for staying a step ahead of the game. Whether it’s panicked, ill-advised timeouts, challenging a play that will in no way overturned and, even if it was, would not really affect the game, or failing to adjust his game plan based on the opposing team’s reaction to the scripted plays, Lewis’ teams are just missing something on game day.

On the other hand, Lewis also seems to have a knack for coaching up players and getting them to play hard for him. He did coach one of the greatest defenses of all time inBaltimore’s championship season, let’s not forget. Lewis may be regarded as more passive on the sidelines then the near-comatose Jim Caldwell, but Hard Knocks cameras showed that he can lay into players. I think Lewis has a developing, young team that is spending the season experiencing the ups and downs of learning to be professionals. At the current rate, this team could develop into an upper-echelon team.

Just not under Lewis.

With Lewis, the Bengals will knock on the door but probably never cross the threshold into the elite. But since Lewis has commanded greater control of personnel from Mike Brown, the Bengals have had some outstanding drafts. Lewis has a good eye for talent and nobody can argue that the current roster has any of Mike Brown’s fingerprints on it. If it did, we would be watching Ryan Mallet start at quarterback.

When this team finally is ready to come into its own, Lewis’ contract will be on the verge of expiring. As Brown continues to become more geriatric, and based on the increased trust he has shown Lewis, maybe a move to the front office will be coming. This is what I hope for and think that it would be a great move for the organization. Brown trusts Lewis like nobody I have ever seen in the Bengals organization, and if Lewis can continue to hit on draft picks – and undrafted players like Vontaze Burfict, who wanted to join Lewis in Cincinnati- Lewis could be the figurehead/coach emeritus of a franchise that becomes a consistent winner.

Jerod Livengood

This is a great topic, because it is really hard to separate Marvin from the organization. How much say does he really get in drafting and free agent acquisitions? He can only work with the talent on hand, which throughout his tenure has been somewhat uneven.

Most organizations don’t keep a coach around for a decade if his record is below .500. The Bengals, for many, many reasons, are not your typical organization. I believe Cincinnati has gone about as far as it can with Marvin, though I am always afraid of a new coach coming in and being a complete disaster.

The Bengals had a great shot to go to the Super Bowl in January, 2006, when Carson Palmer got hurt in the playoff game against Pittsburgh (which wound up winning it all that year). Had Cincinnati even won a playoff game or two that year, I wonder how we might think of Lewis. Then again, it’s something of an indictment on his tenure that I am still thinking about a “what-if” from seven years ago, with no playoff wins and only two appearances since. If things continue going off the rails this year, it is time for a change.

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