The Cincinnati Bengals have been in a relationship with head coach Marvin Lewis for ten years and counting. Lewis has been coaching for over 30 years; he’s been around the block, having much experience with different teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. He was the defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl-winning Ravens in 2000 that possessed a historically dominant defense.
Since 2003, Cincinnati has been to five playoff games. And since 2003, Cincinnati’s lost five playoff games. Lewis has somewhat had an up-and-down career with the Bengals. His first playoff appearance with them was in 2005. Cincinnati then got progressively worse over the next three years going 8-8, 7-9, and 4-11. Lewis, experienced, received breaks due to not having the most talented team. So the Bengals made the playoffs again in 2009. Then, they disappeared again until 2011, going 9-7 with rookie-quarterback Andy Dalton at the time. It was an admirable thing, making the playoffs in the competitive AFC North division with a rookie quarterback. Many thought they’d fade after; but they didn’t, making the playoffs two years straight.
It seems like Lewis and his staff have peaked. As a 10-year head coach, going winless in five playoff games — three straight, is unacceptable. How has no continuity been established? Two of the previous three were on the road and Dalton was considered to be young, so people gave Lewis the benefit of the doubt, but this year’s loss was startling.
Cincinnati went 11-5 this season, claiming their division. A home playoff game was the remedy that could cure their playoff misfortune. The San Diego Chargers stumbled into the playoffs and weren’t favored to win. The Bengals, who were 8-0 at home this season, got flat-out whipped by San Diego, 27-10. It was a despicable performance in front of their crowd, sending them home early.
Lewis’ Bengals are stuck, only getting worse. In these last three playoff appearances, their offense has only scored two touchdowns. They haven’t scored more than 10 points, while scoring none in the fourth quarter. Andy Dalton struggles out there, seeming frightened and unconfident, having six interceptions to one measly touchdown. Cincinnati’s offense is a top-10 ranked offense in 2013, having playmakers like A.J. Green and Marvin Jones. The Bengals’ defense, supposedly a strength, falls apart. It’s baffling how this team repetitively under performs in the playoffs.
There are teams winning playoff games with a lot less. Look at the Indianapolis Colts who have a second year head coach and quarterback, with a bottom ranked defense. Teams like the Kansas City Chiefs are winning with a new head coach. The Chargers also have a new man and staff calling the plays. Lewis isn’t getting it done; he’s the coach who can’t jump the next hurdle.
Cincinnati was a Super Bowl pick by many analysts, now they’re sitting home awaiting it. How many chances can a coach be blessed with after ten seasons and zero playoff victories in five attempts? The Bengals’ staff should have been tweaked long ago; Lewis repeats the same things, expecting different results. Lewis has a good team, but it’s time for him to go. It’s time to bring in someone who can make this team great; it’s time to win a playoff game.