A.J. Green is a surprisingly loyal player for the Cincinnati Bengals, though it probably helps that the organization managed to reach the postseason in his first five seasons. Eight years into his career, the only head coach he has ever known has been Marvin Lewis, and he still doesn’t know for sure who his next one will be—or at least can’t publicly acknowledge it.
Green, who is recovering from a foot injury that shortened his 2018 season, lamented the departure of Lewis, whom he said “brought so much good to this city and to this team. He’s a great coach. I wish him the best. He put us in a great position. We’ve got a lot of talent, we’ve drafted well. It’s next man up. It’s a sad story, but I guess it was time”.
Lewis had been flirting with retirement for years now and had often worked through his contract, not receiving extensions. Before Hue Jackson left to take the head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns (which worked out very well) the two wanted to have a succession plan in place with Lewis stepping down in a year or two.
The time had finally come for both sides, however, following three consecutive losing seasons, and the Bengals are expected to be bringing in Zac Taylor, the quarterbacks coach of the Los Angeles Rams for this past season, who recently talked about what he had learned from Sean McVay as a young head coach—though he couldn’t directly talk about how he would bring that to Cincinnati.
“We’ve got a new spark, made some changes. It’s going to be fun”, Green said about the team’s presumed offseason maneuvers. “It will definitely be a big change, more change than I’m used to. Coach Lewis has been here my first eight years. It’s all I know. It’s going to be tough not having him. But it’s that spark we needed I guess, so we’ll see how it goes”.
For whatever reason, Green has remained committed to the Bengals without ever making a sound or offering a complaint. The closest thing he had ever done to expressing a problem was in discussing the previous season when he was disappointed that management chose to shut him down for the year while recovering from an injury since the season had already been lost, even though he wanted to try to play.
He did try to play through injury this year and ended up aggravating it and making it worse, so perhaps he feels differently about it now. Things will certainly be different going forward without Lewis, however. This team hasn’t seen a culture outside of his influence in 16 years.