The Cincinnati Bengals have completed a massive coaching reboot and are headed into the offseason with fresh ideas. Now, it’s time to deliver.
As it goes, there were a few Bengals fans who experienced psychotic breakdowns in early January. When owner Mike Brown decided to go against the grain and re-up Marvin Lewis for two years, a hush fell over the city. Cincinnatians were torn between staying loyal to the franchise or finding another football team with (dare I say) the gonads to make harsh moves. In other words, fans want an owner who cares about their feelings and a head coach that has the insight to make things happen.
Over the course of 15 years, Lewis hasn’t quite been the man. For the love of Skyline and Gold Star Chili, please don’t start getting all sentimental. Yes, the Bengals have been better than they were in the Lost Decade. And, double yes, the Bengals have been to the Playoffs more than any other time in franchise history. But, is that enough?
Getting to the playoffs and continuously losing is akin to winning the lottery and giving it all away. Why did you play in the first place? Secondly, there’s a nice, warm fuzzy feeling. But, beyond that, there’s nothing to show for the effort. It’s sort of like, go straight to jail…do not pass go. Yeah, that’s it. It’s yesterday’s lasagna on a gold-plated paper plate.
Did Marv deserve another run at it?
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In a rare interview with Cincinnati.com, Brown acknowledged that Lewis was the best choice for the Bengals. Supposedly, he looked at all the intangibles and decided it was best to give him another shot.
"“I think he can manage. I think he has managed it in the past and I think we’ve been very close. We haven’t quite gotten where we needed to get. He knows that. I know that. I do think, repeating again, that our best chance to get there is with him having another run at it. He brings a lot to the table.”"
Here’s the good and bad of that statement. First, there’s the familiarity of the coach. Bengals players wanted to see Marvin at the helm again. They’ve gotten used to his player’s coach mentality. To a certain degree, that offers some stability and continuity. That’s important.
Second, there’s the issue of being stagnant. Maybe the massive changes will be enough to plug the gaps that are plaguing this Bengals team. But, can the coaches hired glean the talent that is already present? Surely, there has to be something missing. Otherwise, the Bengals should have a Lombardi sitting at Paul Brown Stadium.
There has to be a sense of urgency coming out of the gate. When Ken Zampese was fired in Week 2, that was a start. But, it can’t stop there. Whenever there’s subpar coaching or playing, it needs to be addressed immediately. In essence, Zampese’s firing came a year too late. With a two-year lease, Marvelous Marv and the Bengals need to produce now.
Anything less just won’t do
We’ve seen this before. Marvin gets the Bengals back on track by going .500 and Brown is happy. Nope. This can’t happen. The turnaround needs to be equivalent to Forrest Greg’s rise from 6-10 to the Super Bowl. Should fans expect less?
Honestly, no. Fifteen years is a long time. Now that the Bengals are effectively rebooting with the same head coach, it’s time to move on to the next level. Lewis has stated that he wants to win a Super Bowl. But, even Brown knows that’s part of the game.
"“When you have to say publicly things such as that, you’re just playing a game of sorts. I guess you have to do it. So, Marvin felt the pressure and he said what he thought was going to quiet the onslaught in the moment….You’re supposed to say, it’s good form, we’re going to win the Super Bowl. Well, that’s sort of a silly statement. Everybody wants to win the Super Bowl. Obviously….But, it is not anything more than banter, to use some of the formulae that you hear mouthed by different people.”"
In the meantime, I’d like a few playoff wins with my cold pizza.