Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis spoke to reporters yesterday for the first time since it was reported on Sunday that he did not intend to seek an addendum to his tenure in his current position with the organization. In doing so, he did not do a great deal to either confirm nor deny said report.
Lewis was asked directly if he wanted to return for the 2018 season, and his response was, “I want to coach football”. Presumably, if you wanted to continue to coach where you are currently coaching, and you are asked if you want to continue coaching there, you would give a more specific answer than “I want to coach football”.
According to the team’s own website, Lewis acknowledged that he has not yet had a meeting with owner Mike Brown, and insisted to reporters, “we’re wasting time talking about this right now”. He pleaded to “just let it die down. Let’s go win these football games, and let things happen the way they do”.
At the moment, I’m finding it difficult to believe that he really intends to return next season, although it is possible that things could change over the course of the offseason. Lewis has frequently been allowed to have his contract run out before working out a new deal with the Bengals.
While he reportedly told players and coaches that the report is inaccurate, there would be an obvious motivation to do so even if the report is accurate. And he talked about it himself. “It’s an unfortunate thing”, he said, “because it causes a lot of people angst for no reason”.
It also causes a lot of people unemployment, because when regimes change, so do personnel, from the front office all the way down to the locker room. So the Bengals can be dealing with chaos and anxiety throughout the organization over the course of the final few weeks of the season until there is some resolution one way or the other.
That is, after all, the saddest part of the business, at least in my opinion. We sometimes forget to think about those unseen. Sure, we might call for a coach’s or general manager’s head for a job poorly done, but we give little thought to the chain of reaction that that will set in motion, and the human toll that will ultimately take.
Of course, that is simply the collateral damage that comes with working in the business, and everybody who works in the field enters it understanding that. Still, I won’t often find myself celebrating anybody getting fired, unless on ethical grounds.
Should Lewis truly find himself at the end of his tenure for the Bengals, however, it would truly be the end of an era, and an interesting one at that. In spite of the fact that they never managed to even win a playoff game, in comparison to their recent history, he did an excellent job. What would fresh blood be able to accomplish?
One thing I will add, because I expect it will be a topic of conversation in the comments section, is that I would not necessarily anticipate a change in culture. After all, it was the owner, Brown, for example, who ultimately came to the support of Adam Jones earlier this year, and he obviously signs off on Vontaze Burfict’s contracts.