Did Cincinnati Bengals’ Management Doom Marvin Lewis?

Dec 18, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis walks the sideline against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis walks the sideline against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

There has been much unrest in the Queen City this offseason. Numerous free agents have left and Head Coach Marvin Lewis’ seat is hotter than ever. With the apparent rebuilding that is occurring in Cincinnati, one has to wonder if the season is over for Lewis before it even starts.

Bengals fans had mixed emotions when it became known that head Coach Marvin Lewis would be returning for the 2017 season. During Lewis’ tenure, the Bengals have had seven winning seasons but no playoff victories. After a sub-par 2016 campaign, many people were looking for a coaching change to help spark the team. While some fans were hoping for a new coach to be hired, it’s hard not to cheer for Lewis to succeed. He has been with the team for over a decade.

In that time, he changed them from a laughingstock to a playoff contender. It would indeed be nice to see Lewis lead the Bengals to a playoff win. Unfortunately, Lewis’ may have a rough go of it since numerous key free agents left the Bengals to join other teams. To make matters worse, the front office has done little to replace them.

Bengals nation was gearing up for one last hurrah with Marvin Lewis at the helm. Load up with talent, battle it out in the AFC North, and try to capture that elusive playoff victory. They envisioned giving Lewis the best chance to prove he’s still the best man for the job by adding some key pieces. However, this idea seems to have been undermined by a mass exodus of talented free agents. Lewis will most likely not be able to endure another losing season and still keep his job. Is it possible to have a successful season even without the players that left this off-season?

What’s The Point Of Bringing Him Back?

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Ever since Lewis arrived in 2003, the team has had ups and downs. The Carson Palmer era yielded one playoff appearance followed by major rebuilding. The Dalton days have led to six playoff appearances but still, no wins. Now, it looks like rebuilding is set to occur yet again. This means that in order to break through, Lewis and the Bengals will have to do so with a lot of young, unproven players.

It seems odd that the Bengals’ front office decided to take this rebuilding approach while still retaining Lewis. The timing is odd, considering the fact that 2017 is setting up to be a make or break year for the long-time coach.

What It Means

As mentioned earlier, there doesn’t seem to be much point to bringing a seasoned head coach back to manage a team with fewer pieces in place than it had the year before. So what is the front office thinking? It could be that they think Lewis is the best man to bring along the new players they draft. Hopefully, it also means there is a plan hidden behind this year’s offseason and Mike Brown believes the Bengals still have a chance to compete and win. If that isn’t the case, then why not just start rebuilding with a new coach?

Is All Hope Lost For Marvin Lewis?

It is true that the Bengals lost some important players this spring, but there should still be hope in Cincinnati. Kevin Zeitler, Andrew Whitworth, Rex Burkhead, and Karlos Dansby are all gone but many solid players remain. One reason for hope is that the Bengals still have offensive weapons in Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. In addition, Vontaze Burfict and Dre Kirkpatrick will still be bringing some bite on defense.

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Marvin Lewis certainly has the odds stacked against him this season. Regardless of what the front office does, this will be a make or break year for him. Lewis will either find a way to work with the players he has–and get the Bengals back to winning–or he will be gone next year. The front office could certainly be blamed for some of the team’s shortcomings. But, in the end, much of the responsibility will fall on the players and coaches. In this way, Marvin Lewis will have to mirror the spirit of his team. Scratch and claw for every win like their jobs depend on it. This year, he is certainly going to have to fight to succeed.