Cincinnati Bengals’ 2017 success will be motivated by Lewis

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Sep 18, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis (L) talks with outside linebacker Vincent Rey (57) against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis (L) talks with outside linebacker Vincent Rey (57) against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Marvin Lewis has been leading the Bengals for almost 15 years. The 2017 season could be his last chance to prove his worth to the franchise.

The question is a simple one. What’s the next step when your head coach is staring down the barrel of a loaded gun? It’s not a good feeling for the players or the coach. We won’t play the My Friend Has A Problem game. The coach in question is Marvin Lewis and the team is definitely the Bengals. After a dismal 6-9-1 campaign, the re-up for Lewis has been a long time coming. This may be his last hoorah.

So, once again, what’s the gameplay? It’s not like Lewis hasn’t been in this situation before. When the Bengals limped to a 4-12 record in 2010, Mike Brown was slow to slide a contract in front of his coach. Can you blame the man? There’s always the fact of negotiations hitting snags. But, there’s always that chance Mike has gotten to the point that he’s fed up. To Bengals fans, that would me sweet music. Realistically, those things rarely happen to this franchise. It’s all about the Benjamins (Cube and Epps would be proud).

"“I know as far as a group we love coach and we’re all in here working toward one thing, which is winning,” Adam Jones offered, via The Cincinnati Enquirer. “And if you’re winning everything is good. If you have one bad year, you should get everybody out of here.”"

Sage advice from Jones. Sounds like the business of the NFL has been buried in his memory banks. But, sadly, it’s the nature of what players and coaches deal with. The Bengals have actually made moves that make sense. The defense and offense have been upgraded. Now what?

One For The Gipper? 

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Well, I’m quite sure Lewis isn’t on his deathbed. But, the Bengals are looking at this season like his swan song. We know the gory details. In nearly 14 years of leading the Stripes into battle, Marvelous Marv has a resounding asterisk parked next to his name. It’s the No. 1 question when referring to the Cincinnati head coach. Seven trips to the playoffs have yielded seven losses.

At this point, the comparisons to Jim E. Mora usually come into play. Um, no need. One goose egg is sufficient for this article.

It’s an honorable yet daunting task. Bengals players need to have a career year to salvage Lewis’ job. That may sound like an overstatement, but it’s the bottom line. It may take more than a trip to the postseason to make Brown loosen his grip on a contract. Big things are expected from this team. Lewis has to get the best out of all his players.

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

Win one for the Marv.

No Matter What

If Lewis is able to guide the Bengals back to the postseason and beyond, it will be a storybook ending. Marvin isn’t getting any younger and the NFL has a way of making relatively young men look old.

But, the end result could be the same with or without a spectacular year from the Bengals. Lewis could retire or even resign if the pressure is too much. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see champagne bottles popping in the Bengals locker room.

Linebacker Vincent Rey may have dropped the mic.

"“Even though I have two years left on my contract, for me it’s week-to-week,” Rey explained. “I’ve got to perform to stay here. I think it’s the same for coaches. You have to perform.”"

Anyone who has a slight affinity for Lewis doesn’t want to see him fail. A repeat of Mora’s “Playoffs?” rant shouldn’t make an encore in Cincinnati. It should end on a high note.

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