Is Marvin Lewis The Right Fit For The Bengals?

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Sep 18, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis looks on against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis looks on against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Marvin Lewis has been leading the Bengals since 2003. He’s held the head coaching position longer than any Cincinnati coach. Is he still the right fit?

It seems like year after year something comes up about Marvin Lewis’ coaching style. With the Bengals sitting at 2-3, the criticism has already started. The AFC Champions look nothing like the team that went 8-0 to start the 2015 campaign. But, is that all on Lewis? Is he the main reason his team has not performed the way it was expected to?

The Bengals finished last year with a 12-4 record. All things considered, that was the best mark under the Lewis regime. They made the playoffs for the fifth year in a row. But, it all came tumbling down in the January 9th Wild Card game. Fans were ready to rejoice in the delivery of a coveted postseason victory. Joy turned to sadness when the Meltdown occurred. Vontaze Burfict, Adam Jones, Joey Porter…yada, yada. 

It was the same old story packaged in different gift wrapping. Lewis has gotten the Bengals to the promised land but failed to bring the noise. Another L in the Jungle and another game that seemed winnable. The huge games just aren’t working out for Lewis and Co. 

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Under Lewis’ watch, Cincinnati has not fared well in primetime affairs. After thumping the Miami Dolphins, the Bengals found themselves unprepared for the Dallas Cowboys. Dak Prescott was able to dice and slice the Bengals defense like a side of beef. The knee-jerk reaction is to fault Paul Guenther. Yes, he’s definitely at fault too. But, to make Guenther the scapegoat isn’t the answer.

The Reality

While Lewis has been the head coach, the Bengals struggle after Monday or Thursday games. While Monday night contests seem to shorten the week, the opposite is true with Thursday affairs. But, Lewis’ squads still seem to have average to no pep either way.

Against the Boys, Marvin’s Men were down 21-0 at the half. Amazingly, there were adjustments made to stop the beatdown. But, there’s simply no excuse for how flat and uninspired the Bengals looked. It’s been said–with some reluctance–that Andy Dalton was the only one in Orange and Black to show up. Whatever the case, the fire wasn’t there. The focus was absent. That, my friends, is something the head coach is responsible for.

Since becoming the head coach, Lewis is horrendous when he needs to really motivate the Bengals. There’s no need to look at the losing streak in the playoffs. The evidence is in the team’s play. Cincinnati is not beating the “elite” of the NFL. Breaking down the 2-3 record shows just that. The two wins are against transition teams. The Jets are marginal. Ryan Fitzpatrick is setting new lows in interceptions and Revis Island has become a tourist attraction. The Phins are just bad.

Lewis has been able to keep his job despite a 0-7 mark in the playoffs. But, if the Bengals follow last year’s 12 win campaign with a less than stellar regular season, the seat could get hot. The way Cincinnati has been playing, Week 6 could result in a 2-4 record. That could get Mike Brown’s head spinning.

The Fans

It’s been three years since the Bengals have been under the .500 mark. Outside of the pathetic results in the postseason, Lewis has brought winning football to Cincy. But, how long do fans have to endure the disconnected laughter and poor preparation before huge games?

How long will Marvelous Marvin be allowed to fool fans into believing things will change? It all sounds like a 1950’s soap opera…As The Bengals Turn.

Next: Week Six Fix

The season isn’t a bust. Most Cincinnati faithful have been spoiled. Five consecutive trips to the Big Dance and winning seasons are addicting. It’s easy to get used to winning. But, eventually, the teasing has to stop. Lewis needs to prove he’s the right fit for the Bengals or look for a job next to Brown. A head coach should be able to build a team…and motivate them to go beyond the status quo.

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