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How far do the Bengals have to go for Lewis to keep his job?

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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 /
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It’s safe to say that Marvin Lewis’ job is on the line. With a young but potentially talented roster, what does he have to do to remain the Bengals head coach through 2018 and beyond?

It’s been 14 years since Marvin Lewis became the head coach of the Bengals. Since then, Lewis has had numerous winning seasons but no playoff wins to show for it. If 2017 doesn’t go better for the Bengals than the sub-par 2016 campaign, Lewis could be out as head coach in Cincinnati. Maintaining a job in the NFL can be dependent on just one win or loss. So how far do the Bengals have to get this year for Lewis to continue as head coach?

What He’s Done So Far

In 2003 Lewis inherited a lowly team and quickly elevated them to two 8-8 seasons before taking them to the playoffs in 2005. The Bengals missed the playoffs the following three seasons but then had one of their best stretches in franchise history from 2009 to 2015 making the playoffs seven out of eight years and won the division three times.

Realistically, the Bengals under Lewis have had some of their most successful regular seasons in franchise history. The problems, however, have come in the postseason where the Bengals have zero wins in their seven appearances. This unfortunate statistic has Lewis’ seat blazing hot.

Will Lewis Be Fired If The Bengals Miss The Playoffs?

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After 14 seasons without a playoff victory, conventional wisdom suggests Lewis would be let go. Many fans thought he should have been let go after the team’s last playoff loss in 2015. The disastrous 2016 season only pushed more people onto the fire Lewis bandwagon. Mike Brown seems to have an affinity for the long time Bengals coach, but it would be hard to justify keeping him on after another failed season.

Another Playoff Loss?

Would getting back to the playoffs be enough to save Lewis’ job? Most likely not. Since the knock on his teams have been a failure to win when it counts most, it would be hard not to look at another first round playoff loss as a huge failure. Sure, there are teams that would be happy just to make the playoffs like the Browns, Jaguars, and Titans. However, the Bengals aren’t in that category anymore. They have been contenders for most of the decade. Settling for another first round defeat would be settling for mediocrity when a deep run seems so possible.

How About A Playoff Victory?

To some teams, a single playoff victory is nothing to celebrate. Just look at teams like the Steelers, Packers, and Patriots that consistently make playoff runs. However, the fact of the matter is, a playoffs win in Cincy represents more than just a single round advancement. Fans in the Queen City are hungry for a championship and will say anything short of that is a bust. In reality, though, a playoff win would be a huge step and probably enough to keep Lewis secure for one more season. Two wins or a trip to the AFC Championship game and Lewis could be looking at a nice extension.

Next: Potential Playoff Road Blocks

While Bengals fans have been critical of Lewis, it’s hard not to root for him. Especially in this make or break season. It will essentially boil down to a playoff win being the determining factor whether the coaching regime remains the same. Some people will want Lewis gone regardless of how this season goes. But, a playoff win with a young unproven team would be a major step in the right direction. Even the team’s most fair-weather fans can agree with that.

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