Marvin Lewis has been the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals for 15 seasons. Pretty much everything about the franchise has his fingerprints on it. There is not a player on the roster—and there are very few players in the entire league—who were around when he first came in.
In other words, everything about this team is reflective of the coach that he is. But Mike Brown, the Bengals’ owner, evidently needed to see the final two games of the 2017 regular season in order to make the determination that he wanted to bring Lewis back for two more seasons.
While Lewis inherited an admittedly awful team that had not gone to the playoffs in some time, he has reached the postseason in seven of his 15 seasons, never earning one of the top two seeds in that span, and he has coached losing efforts in each of those seven postseason games.
From 2011 to 2015, the Bengals were successful, winning the division twice and making the postseason in each year, winning 52 games against 27 losses, with a tie thrown in. But Cincinnati has won just 13 games, losing 18, with another tie in the mix, over the past two seasons.
“I would say that while we had serious reverses and they were unsettling, to put it mildly, we bounced back at the end of the year”, Brown said in a recent interview. “We beat two teams that were in playoff runs. We beat them in games that were important for them where they gave their best shot and I was impressed how we rebounded. That played into what was in my mind when I had to make a final call”.
Over the course of the final two weeks of the season, the Bengals defeated the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Ravens, with those losses helping to ensure that those team would miss the postseason. Andy Dalton’s 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd on fourth and 11 with under a minute to play against the Ravens is the direct reason that Baltimore did not play the following week.
“We had a disappointing season because we didn’t win our share of those close games that we could’ve, should’ve won”, he went on. “I think it goes beyond that, though. I think we tailed off in some areas that brought us down. I think those issues are correctable. I don’t think we’re far off. I think we can make the changes that we need to make and quickly rebound to the level where we were a couple years ago”.
One notable point that he did bring up is that Lewis still wields authority over his players. While that group of players might not be the most disciplined bunch from their very nature, they are still behind their coach. And he still believes that his coach returning gives his team the best chance to win next season, so here he is once again.