Bengals’ Lewis has to go
A television camera picked up a telling look on the face of Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis during his Bengals’ 45-10 Sunday night primetime blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Lewis was visibly dumbfounded as Chiefs’ free safety Ron Parker picked off quarterback Andy Dalton for a 33-yard pick-six which increased the lead to 31 points four minutes into the third quarter.
One could understand if a cry for help soon followed his expression. His team was being picked apart by a second-year quarterback at the height of his powers; the interception being a cherry on top of the KC sundae.
Yet, the Chiefs also brought one of the NFL’s worst defenses to the field and the Bengals only scored 10 points. Cincy quarterback Andy Dalton finished with 148 yards passing with a touchdown, while running back Joe Mixon picked up just 50 yards rushing.
Yes, Cincinnati’s defense was banged up going in against the top offense in the NFL this season but the offense, which had some injuries, still had enough weapons to compete. Analysts and viewers alike knew the Bengals should be able to keep up in a shootout, but they didn’t come close.
To be fair, none other than Patriot head coach Bill Belichick provided a passing answer for how to beat the Chiefs and quarterback wunderkind Patrick Mahomes II this season. No matter how ultimately effective it was during the Patriots’ 43-40 ironic shootout win on Oct. 14.
Therein lies the difference between the currently longest-tenured head coach in the NFL (Belichick) and second longest (Lewis). Injuries or not, Belichick successfully answers the biggest exams more times than not (five Super Bowl rings anyone?), while Lewis repeatedly flunks the tests.
While having Tom Brady at signal caller helps, the Bengals haven’t been pushovers during Lewis’ tenure. But the cracks have started to appear with back-to-back losing seasons along a dam already endangered by the sub-par performance in the biggest contests.
Presentation of a long overdue pink slip to the embattled coach should be more evident than ever, especially following another late meltdown against AFC North rival Pittsburgh one week earlier.
Enough is enough.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. Owner Mike Brown, a notorious good guy, won’t do it but the Bengals have a very big problem.
Lewis has wasted some of the franchise’s best seasons on first-round playoff exits. Dalton and AJ Green are one of the top quarterback-wide receiver combos in the league along with almost always stellar play from the defensive line.
Lewis kept questionable players on the team who show a certain proclivity for causing trouble (see Burfict, Vontaze and a 2016 playoff loss to the Steelers where he targeted wide receiver Antonio Brown with a vicious hit with the Bengals in the lead and seconds left in the game).
Oh … His record in primetime or playoff games also fell to 6-15 in games played after 7 p.m. and 0-7 in the playoffs. (Somewhere in America, longtime head coach Marty Schottenheimer is laughing over the length of time Cincinnati fans have put up with this).
While he has done a lot of winning during his time as the head coach, the most by any Bengals head coach in fact, all the victories haven’t meant a lot in the grand scheme of things.
It is time for another coach to get their shot at making waves with a largely talented roster.
Contact Joe Albright at firstname.lastname@example.org.