Oct 19, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis on the field during the fourth quarter of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts defeated the Bengals 27-0. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Lewis’ contributions to the Bengals has gone beyond what seemed imaginable just a decade ago. He’s transformed the Bengals’ culture while rebuilding this team when Mike Brown’s plan for player acquisitions turned this team into a laughing stock with numerous arrests, antics, and a fractured locker room. His demand (in 2011) for facility improvements has finally been met this year.
"“It’s exciting to see this work under way. I thank our administration for clearing and approving all of the projects, and I thank JDL Warm for making sure the new spaces are expertly constructed so that our players continue to have a great work environment. On Sundays, you’re only as good as your preparation during the week, and with these enhancements, we’ll continue to have first-class facilities here at Paul Brown Stadium for many years to come.”"
This demand along with others he made in 2011 have now been met. Marvin Lewis has done so well for this team that the relentlessly skeptical and mistrusting Mike Brown relinquished control of the Bengals to both Lewis and his daughter, executive vice president Katie Blackburn.
It shouldn’t be understated what Marvin Lewis has done for this organization. If you grew up with this team over the past few decades, you understand how difficult it must have been to get Mike Brown to change. Lewis once demanded improvement from his organization and he received. Now he must make these same demands of his players.
As much as he’s done for this organization, I’m sure even Lewis would agree that it’s all for not if a Super Bowl victory doesn’t cap it off. Lewis has been a part of success before, so he should understand what it takes to get there. He’s constructed an impressive roster and coaching staff since joining this organization, so he understands how to collect the necessary talent. Now he must figure out how to be the “lead dog” and really get his team to respond in kind.
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Lewis has clearly found some measure of success within the organization when considering the things we just discussed. But what holds this team back is a lack of leadership. Yet Lewis has found success in a leadership type of role while coordinating for Baltimore in 2000 when they won their Super Bowl. He’s even developed a significant leader in Ray Lewis. But none of this has translated to the leadership-less Bengals.
This is the final hurdle between Lewis and the ultimate success. His laid-back style is contrasted by the fiery style of Hue Jackson, so the Bengals possess both leadership types. Lewis must begin to identify what will bring more out of his players and utilize these various coaching styles to motivate his players. Success with this problem would give the Bengals a much needed identity
Marvin Lewis doesn’t feel the Bengals need a rallying cry.
"“It’s not a rallying cry you need. What you need is execution. You need to go out and execute. You jump up and down and beat your head against the wall it’s not going to help us make a first down or stop third down and that’s what we need to do. There is no rallying cry.”"
He is exactly right. Getting angry and upset won’t solve the Bengals problems; anger is a poor way to motivate people. But the Bengals look lax lately and something is missing from this team. And as gifted as the Bengals are, it’s hard to envision the problem being talent. It’s the mental side of the Bengals that’s keeping them from reaching their full potential.
If Marvin Lewis can’t figure this out, the Bengals will begin to waste one of the most talented rosters they’ve ever had. Wasting this kind of team isn’t an option. If Lewis can’t figure it out, Katie Blackburn will need to consider life after Marvin. It would be an unfortunate ending to what could’ve been an extremely successful stage of Lewis’ career. But if he can’t finish the job, Bengals fans deserve someone who can.