May 26, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis yells directions to his team during OTAs at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals are finally relevant again. They have won the AFC North numerous times over the past 10 years. They have competed for playoff spots, been praised for their quality drafts, and have removed the images of the terrible 90’s. Now, one hurdle remains. It haunts the recent fan base and continues to put the Bengals on the back burner. No playoff wins since 1991.
Marvin Lewis helped make the Bengals relevant again. He transformed the locker room, changed the culture. Yet he has shown time and time again that he can’t get the Bengals to the promise land. Fans may argue that we should keep him because the fear of falling back into the 90’s creeps into their minds.
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
However, history is repeating itself, and it shows that we should not be afraid to lose Marvin Lewis. Should he be thanked and praised for what he has done? Absolutely. But history shows that sometimes it’s better to move on.
The New Orleans Saints were one of the worst franchises. They had won a mere 90 games in their first nineteen seasons and did not have a winning record in any season during that time. The New Orleans Saints hired a coach named Jim Mora.
Mora revitalized the team and added talent and great coaching. He had players reaching their potential, giving all they had, and the team was winning games in the regular season. By his second season in town, he got them not only a winning record but also a spot in the playoffs, though they were ultimately blown out in their playoff game.
Jim Mora led the Saints to four playoff seasons, but ultimately lost each game. The Saints had to make a decision, and eventually they fired Mora after things started to go downhill. Jim Mora is still the winningest head coach for the Saints with 93 wins in ten seasons. That’s three more than the Saints had their first nineteen seasons.
Jim Mora found a job elsewhere with the Indianapolis Colts. He drafted Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James, for starters. His first season didn’t go so well, but he then led the Colts to the playoffs his second year with them, but yet again they lost. In 2000, it was Mora’s last time reaching the playoffs, and his team lost yet again, dropping Jim Mora’s playoff record to 0-6. That same season, the Saints went on to get their first ever playoff victory.
Mora just couldn’t get his team over the hump. The Colts made a name for themselves after moving on from Mora; they even went on to win the Super Bowl in 2006. While Jim Mora was a good regular season coach, he could never get it done in the playoffs, like Marvin Lewis. The Bengals of the 90’s are no more. That’s over 20 years ago. Marvin Lewis can put together a great team for the regular season, but they can never get over the playoff hump over him.
Jim Mora is extremely identical to Marvin Lewis. Both took over woeful franchises and led them to the playoffs within three years. They both drafted top talent and helped players reach their potential. They both have never won a playoff game. They are both 0-6 in the playoffs. Many can point the finger at players, which in understandable. But the fact is that under Marvin Lewis, it almost always seems like there’s only a few players that showed up, while the rest just play flat.
As Bengals fans, we shouldn’t fear the 90’s. Rather, we should fear a coach who wastes talent year in and year out. One who can’t get his players over the playoff hump. It’s been 13 years; it’s time to move on. History has shown how this goes by looking at Jim Mora’s career. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Both the Saints and Colts went on to win playoff games and even Super Bowls. So maybe it’ll take another coach for the Bengals to have that fortune as well.