Marvin Lewis has led the Cincinnati Bengals to three consecutive playoff appearances and five overall postseason berths in his 11-year tenure with the once-dismal franchise, including winning three AFC North titles, but after three straight losses in the first round of the playoffs, Lewis and the Bengals are still trying to break through the glass ceiling and get that elusive playoff win.
Lewis’ contract runs through the 2015 season but if the Bengals experience another early ouster in the playoffs, this season could be his last in the Queen City. The same can be said for his quarterback as Andy Dalton has had a nice run in the regular season since the team took him in the second round out of TCU, but his postseason failures has increased the temperature on his seat.
The two have been victims to their own success in Cincinnati where an eight-win season a decade ago was synonymous with hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, but that’s not the case anymore where expectations have been raised in large part because of Lewis who has a 90-85-1 record with the Bengals.
“He and I both, we know what we’re up against,” Lewis tells Don Banks of Sports Illustrated, again showing a grasp of reality. “We’ve set a high standard and now the expectations are to win everything. That’s the good thing. Winning is just not good enough any longer. Winning the division is no longer good enough. The opportunity to win enough to get to the playoffs and become world champions is the goal. Otherwise people will feel this has been a failure.”
The franchise nicknamed “The Bungles” for their ineptitude could be making a colossal mistake if they ship out the best coach they’ve had in 30 years and the prospect of not giving Dalton an extension after three playoff berths in his first three seasons in the league would be typical of the short-sighted decisions the franchise repeatedly made prior to the brilliant move of hiring Lewis.
The NFL is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league and lately the Bengals have squandered nice regular seasons with dreadful postseason games to leave an awful taste in the mouths of fans, coaches, players and executives over a long offseason.
Could it be Lewis is just not capable of getting the team to the top of the mountain and a change needs to be made to break up the status quo?
“I know we’re not satisfied,” Lewis said. “I think we’ve really come light years as a team, but we can’t stay the same and think we’re going to stay status quo. We’ve tried doing that and failed at it. You’ve got to work hard every year and you’ve got to climb the mountain every year. We’ve learned that over time.”
The Bengals will begin the season as the preseason favorite to win their division by many, but another year without a playoff win and it could be time for Lewis to begin climbing a mountain in another city.