If Mark Davis being interested in Jon Gruden was the NFL’s worst-kept secret, then this being the final season for Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati was a close second. The season started with three straight losses, then added losing three of four in late October into November, and by the time they had another three-game losing streak in December, Adam Schefter of ESPN was reporting that Lewis would leave the team after this season to “pursue opportunities elsewhere.”
That report was followed hours later by Cincinnati getting stomped 34-7 by Minnesota in a game where players didn’t exactly seem to be fighting to keep their coach’s job.
But it made sense. Lewis had a very good run in Cincinnati. 15 years as an NFL head coach is incredible. 15 years as an NFL head coach with the same team is practically unheard of. And there’s no denying that over that run, he restored some much-needed pride to the Bengals. He not only ended their playoff drought, he made 7 trips to the playoffs and threw in 6 double-digit win seasons.
But it was time to move on. Things had gotten stale. There were zero playoff wins in all those trips and it just felt like everything in Cincinnati was stagnant at best and regressing at worst.
So it was only a mere formality when the team issued a statement that opened with the following: The Bengals today signed head coach Marvin Lewis to a two-year contract through the 2019 season.
WAIT…WHAT!?!? Let me read that again: The Bengals today signed head coach Marvin Lewis to a two-year contract through the 2019 season.
Marvin Lewis is coming back again next year. Not only that, but he received a two-year extension as well?!? Why didn’t they just throw in a piece of the team and a lifetime deal while they were at it?
If you’re shocked, you should be. Hell, his own assistants are. Chris Mortensen tweeted: Bengals coaches certain they had coached their last game under Marvin Lewis among those who are stunned but happy with news he has signed a 2-yr extension
What happened? How is that even possible that not only are they bringing him back, they’re giving him an extension? I know they ended the season with wins over Detroit and Baltimore, but the team does know that incredible Andy Dalton to Tyler Boyd touchdown in the final minute put Buffalo into the playoffs, not Cincinnati, right?
It was a really nice win, but it was a really nice win that capped off a 7-9 season. And all of the reasons for why it made sense for Lewis to move on in December still exist in January. They’re not winning any playoff games this year because they didn’t reach the playoffs this year. What kind of message does that send your fan base. Don’t bother: I’ll answer my own question: message being that ownership isn’t in it to win it; they’re in it to make money… and don’t have the stones , to take that big swing, or take a shot on someone else… Knowing the Bengals the way we do the only thing that would have been less surprising than this is if they had brought back 1-31 Hue Jackson. And you know they probably tried to and even he probably didn’t want that gig. He’d rather preside over an 0-16 team.
And even worse the ownership not having the stones to shake it up, would be thinking it’s not even broken. That there’s nothing here that needs fixing. Then the message is, we’re fine not winning playoff games. Hell, we’re fine not even going to the playoffs. Because we know how crappy it was before Marvin got here and well…, we sure do like him.
I’ll give you that. It was crappy before he got there. They were a laughing stock around the league. And Marvin is a good guy. For years, he’s been the best thing about the Bengals.
And I’m not going to say that going 0-7 in the playoffs makes Marvin Lewis a bad coach. Truth is you have to be a pretty good coach to go 0-7 in the playoffs. Especially in Cincinnati..
But going 0-7 isn’t good. And it does get old.
And tiresome for fans. Which would explain why the Bengals were third-worst in attendance, ahead of the Chargers who play in a tiny stadium and the Browns who, well, are the Browns.
Believe me. At this point, as stale as things are and Marvin’s message must be, the Bengals could do better. Hell, Marvin Lewis could do better. They’re co-dependents. They’re enabling each other. They’re addicts. They just can’t quit each other. Someone has to do an intervention. And someone is my man, Boomer Esiason.
Boomer, I know you have a ton of your plate, but you have to do something about this. You have to get this thing cranked up. If not you, then who?! Bengal nation turns its lonely eyes, Boomer. And Toby says he misses you coming on this show and sends his regards.