Could Bengals’ play be affected by Lewis’ contract status?

Jun 13, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Marvin Lewis and the Bengals are in a must-win situation. This is not only for the 2017 season. The year will be a reflection of the franchise.

Honestly, it’s the White Elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. But, it gets bigger and bigger as the days pass and training camp gets closer. It sounds like a promo for a romance novel or cheesy television soap opera. Yet, it’s as real as the Bengals’ horrid 2016 season. Marvin Lewis still hasn’t been offered a contract extension and it looks like he may go into the new year without one.

After a solid draft and getting all the rookies signed, the last thing the Bengals need is a distraction of Lewis magnitude. Every ounce of focus and passion needs to be centered on turning the year around and making a spirited run at the postseason.

Lewis has been with the franchise since 2003 and has always operated under ink, with the exception of the 2010 campaign. That season, the Bengals limped to a 4-12 record and had fans screaming for Lewis’ head. But, the very next year, Bengals faithful were treated to a 9-7 rebound. The Beginning of the Dalton-Green era ushered in five straight years of playoff football. But, with the situation once again at Red Alert Status, will the Bengals be affected by Lewis’ lack of a contract?

Consistency Is A Must 

Believe it or not (wasn’t that a television show?), the Bengals have been one of the most successful NFL franchises, under the leadership of Lewis. Honestly, most fans of other teams would gladly take a five-year run of postseason bliss. The downside is five consecutive losses.

Andy Dalton sees Lewis’ tenure as something that has helped the players adjust.

"“It’s been great that he has been the only person a lot of these guys have known and has been here for so long because he’s had a lot of successful years,” Dalton said, via The Cincinnati Enquirer. “I think keeping the continuity of having the same coaches is big, and sometimes an underrated value.”"

Dalton should understand the importance of chemistry. He’s had three offensive coordinators during his stint in Cincinnati. Each time, he’s had to reload and get used to the differences. What’s the difference with Lewis? The Bengals can’t afford to reboot this season. If it turns into what seems like an audition for 2018, the door could shut on Marvin sooner than expected. Bengals’ brass has invested in the success of the unit immediately, not in a few years.

Veteran cornerback, Adam Jones, doesn’t think Lewis wants to put the burden on Bengals players. The players have to be responsible for doing their jobs and creating opportunities to win.

"“I think everybody knows what’s at stake. First, we don’t want to let down ourselves and our families and we definitely don’t want to let down coach Lewis.”"

Sounds like the vets have a handle on the reality of the situation.

Next: How Bad Do They Want It?

Time To Prove It

The players seem to understand the gravity of the situation. But, 2017 won’t be the average year. Lewis is essentially in a sink or swim scenario. So, his every move and the performance of the team assembled will be under a microscope. But, isn’t that what it’s been like for a while? Now, it just got real…for real.