Jan 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis against the Indianapolis Colts during the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
This coming season presents arguably the Cincinnati Bengals toughest schedule in recent years, and probably the most difficult since Andy Dalton took over under center. The Bengals will face numerous playoff opponents and the league’s toughest division, the AFC North. Coming into the season with a strategy is great; it sets a tone for the year and lays out goals to reach as the year goes on.
This year’s goals are similar to last in that they will seek to win the AFC North and go deeper into the playoffs than they have since the Dalton-Lewis era began. This means that rallying the team around new goals isn’t an option. Lewis must find a new way to lead the team and inspire them on a consistent basis. Players are always motivated to win, but what will take this team to the next level isn’t likely to be adding talent as the Bengals been loaded with talent for years. Rather, what will help this team reach a new level of success is Marvin Lewis‘ ability to step his game up.
in 2015, Marvin Lewis must take his coaching to the next level and lead his team through the tough times. The Bengals are talented enough to win a few games a year based on this alone, but what they’ve struggled with in recent years is responding to adversity. The team has several veterans who should be able to help, but it’s Lewis who must put this team on his back and carry them through the adversity. As impressive as the roster is, the Bengals seemingly haven’t found that player who can carry the team, so Lewis must.
Marvin Lewis must make adjustments as the year goes on. This will likely prove to be the difference as 2015 progresses. It’s something he’s struggled with as a coach, but can no longer afford to as 2015 could prove to be a make-or-break year for the roster as we know it (the Bengals have around 28 players who will hit free agency in the coming year).
Adjustments are a perennial necessity as things like injuries and lackluster play always present themselves. But the need to do so becomes even more apparent when one views the Bengals schedule. As we previously discussed, Lewis must have his team humming by the time the season starts. Once the Bengals enjoy their bye week (Week Seven), the season sees a stark difference.
Lewis must get his team ready to go to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers, and ready them for four prime time games. It will be no easy task to get a team ready for so much adversity, but if Lewis wants to take this team to the next level, he must figure out how to.
Lewis received one bit of relief this week after signing a one-year extension. No one knows if coaching in the “lame duck” year would’ve actually decreased Lewis’ effectiveness with the players, but he won’t have to figure that out now that the team has thrown him another year of support (at least on paper).
If the Bengals want to qualify for the playoffs yet again, they’ll simply need to play the way their roster is capable of. But if Cincinnati wants to go deeper in the playoffs, then it’s Lewis who holds the key. Lewis’ ability to make adjustments will prove to be the difference in 2015.