By Conrad Clowers
There’s an old saying. Every dog has his day. Judgment day finally came for Marvin Lewis. Well, that’s not true. Judgment day comes every year the day after the season ends for Marvin Lewis. He and Bengal owner Mike Brown meet. For 16 times in 16 years, the judgment went in Lewis’ favor. Wait until next year. We’ll do better! … Nope … Not this time. There will not be a year 17.
For the first time since 2002, the Cincinnati Bengals have told a coach his services will no longer be needed. At that time it was Dick Lebeau. Lebeau coached three years for the Bengals. Under him the team finished 12-33. Lebeau still went on to be a hall of famer and stud defensive coordinator.
There’s a lot of different ways Lewis can be remembered. His final record as Bengals’ head coach was 132-129. Do the math. That’s 50.5% winning. Marvin Lewis may be remembered as a coach that couldn’t win the big one. He may be remembered as a coach who took the franchise to an unprecedented five straight playoff seasons. He may be remembered as the biggest under achiever Cincinnati had. All of those theories are subjective and not necessarily false. At the end of the day, Lewis was what his record says he was. He was an average coach. Give him 10 games, he’ll win five. Give him 20 games, he’ll win 10.
The playoffs were a different story. Nine times the Lewis Bengal teams made it to the summit. Nine times the Lewis-led Bengals failed. My guess is that’s what fans will remember about the Lewis era. A few times having amongst the best personnel in the league and exiting before the engine got cold. It’s hard to go 0-9. More often than not, you stumble into a win. To go 0-9, there has to be some underlying reason why. Cursed. Unprepared. Something.
At this writing at the stroke of midnight some soul out there will shout “Happy New Year!” One of those souls will be the next Bengal coach. Who is it? Heck if I know. But I know one thing. I’d bet my next paycheck he doesn’t get 16 years and nine playoff losses to prove himself. If the Brown family brings in the right man, he will have success.
There are some pieces to this puzzle that fit. Lewis is a good person. He did wonders with his Marvin Lewis Community Fund. There was just one thing wrong with the now former Bengals’ coach. He wasn’t good at solving puzzles.