Marvin Lewis will be entering season 15 as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. This has to be the year he decides to make a serious change.
Yes, this sounds like a straight man (Dean Martin) and goofball (Jerry Lewis) setup. Make that statement around most Bengals fans and the results will vary. But, most of the answers will hover around resigning, retiring gracefully or getting the ax. Unfortunately, those options aren’t a part of the Bengals’ plans for 2017. So, with Marvin Lewis firmly in control of the head coach position, how does he go about turning the ship around?
Without a doubt, the 2016 campaign was one most Bengals faithful want to forget. It was sort of like a Matrix moment. Remember when Cypher wanted to be put back into the console? Every fan of the Cincinnati Bengals was on the same wavelength.
I don’t wanna remember Nothing. Nothing. You understand?
Falling from grace and posting a 6-9-1 record has a sobering effect on everyone. Unfortunately, forgetting the gory details of the last year will be hard to do. There’s a strong chance that things could go south real fast. The free agency situation has once again approached beastly proportions for the Bengals. Talented players are set to leave the Queen City and rake in all the Benjamins they want. In fact, it’s becoming a yearly ritual in Cincinnati.
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It can change for the better. Lewis has a chance to, once again, become Coach of the Year and prove he’s the man for the job. But, how does he work the gig?
You Had To Know This Was Coming
First on the agenda is the playoff snafu. What? Let’s be brutally honest. The barren wastelands of the postseason have to be rewritten. Seven appearances in the Big Dance without a W is not something to brag about. Thus, when Bengals fans want to talk about how well the team is doing, it’s a moot subject with others. The first thing fans are downed with is, “Win a freakin’ playoff game.” At that point, it’s the end of the conversation for most.
Lewis has to find a way out of the funk. By now, most owners would have opened the door and shoved Lewis out onto the curb for trash collection day. What saves Marvelous Marv is his “keen” eye for talent. Most fans are skeptical about that, now that Rex Burkhead is up for grabs in free agency.
There has to come a time when Lewis is willing to take chances. That was the problem in the January 9 Wild Card game (2015 seems so long ago). Why run Jeremy Hill? Kick a field goal and make an injured Ben Roethlisberger or inept Landry Jones go at least 80 yards. Big risks can yield big rewards. But, Lewis has to make the first move.
Make This Year The Awakening
Marvin Lewis will be going into year number 15 of his coaching career. This has to be the year he goes ‘all in’ for the players and fans. The lame excuses that held up until now should no longer be his saving grace. All teams incur injuries that change the dynamic of the team. When Andy Dalton broke his thumb, it was a devastating blow. But, that’s football. It’s a situation that coaches are paid for.
The 2016 losses of A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill were eye-opening. It took some time for OC Ken Zampese and Lewis to understand what had to be done. Ahhh, the adjustments. There has to be an improvement in that area. It takes entirely too long for things to finally click.
Since Lewis stated, per Bengals.com, a contract isn’t crucial or critical for him to operate, he should be ready to step down. Before that revelation, Lewis also revealed he hasn’t found the right buttons to push.
"“It is hard because I feel like I’ve not found the right buttons, push people, et cetera, to get us where we need to be,” Lewis confided, per The Cincinnati Enquirer. “And I always take credit for that. I’m never going to blame somebody else. It’s my job to figure it out why we don’t get it to where it needs to be. We’ve been short.”"
It’s time to find those buttons and push them until a playoff victory is the reward. Otherwise, it’s time to think about walking off into the sunset.