Is It Time for the Bengals to Make A Coaching Change?

Jake DeWitt

Heading into Week 13, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis touts a career record of 115-101 in the regular season, which registers the third-best winning percentage in franchise history at .532, trailing only Bill “Tiger” Johnson (1976-1978) and Forrest Gregg (1980-1983). Since taking the reins of a franchise in shambles in 2003, Lewis has led the Bengals to the playoffs seven times in 14 years. His seven playoffs appearances match the combined total of the franchise since it joined the National Football League in 1970. In doing so, Lewis led the Bengals to AFC North Division titles in 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2015, as well as second place finishes in 2012 and 2014.

Lewis’ ability to draft well has left the Bengals with a plethora of talent over his 14-year stint. Below are some of the most notable names whom Lewis is responsible for bringing to Cincinnati.

  • Carson Palmer (2003)
  • David Pollack (2005)
  • Jonathan Joseph (2006)
  • Andrew Whitworth (2006)
  • Frostee Rucker (2006)
  • Domata Peko (2006)
  • Leon Hall (2007)
  • Keith Rivers (2008)
  • Anthony Collins (2008)
  • Andre Smith (2009)
  • Rey Maualuga (2009)
  • Michael Johnson (2009)
  • Kevin Huber (2009)
  • Jermaine Gresham (2010)
  • Carlos Dunlap (2010)
  • Geno Atkins (2010)
  • AJ Green (2011)
  • Andy Dalton (2011)
  • Dre Kirkpatrick (2012)
  • Kevin Zeitler (2012)
  • Mohamed Sanu (2012)
  • Marvin Jones (2012)
  • George Illoka (2012)
  • Tyler Eifert (2013)
  • Giovani Bernard (2013)
  • Jeremy Hill (2014)
  • William Jackson III (2016)
  • Tyler Boyd (2016)

Yeah, that’s a pretty solid list of players. So, the question that every Bengals fan is asking is: why the hell haven’t great drafts translated to playoff wins?

In his seven playoff appearances, Lewis failed to win a single game in the Wild Card round, including each of the last five years. 0-7 in all. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a team that’s great on paper and backs it up with a few division titles. Last year the Bengals appeared poised to turn that streak around after posting a 12-4 record in the regular season. However, an injury to Andy Dalton in the first half brought their season to a screeching halt.

This year, a defense that lacks positional redundancy and depth has failed to stop the run. The Bengals entered the season hopeful that AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, and 2016 second-round pick Tyler Boyd could mitigate the loss of wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency. Yet, Boyd failed to learn the offense as quickly as many had hoped, Eifert was inactive for the first six games as he was rehabbing a foot injury. While the team is hopeful Green can return before the end of the season after suffering a torn hamstring in Week 11, there’s no point in risking future injury if the Bengals are out of the playoff hunt. To make matters worse, Bernard suffered a torn ACL in Week 11. Cincinnati isn’t mathematically eliminated yet, but they would need to win out and get some help to make the postseason.

Clearly injuries have played a significant role in the Bengals’ inability to reach their full potential. Many players, including former Cincinnati running back Corey Dillion, have been calling for coaching change for years. There’s no doubt in Lewis’ ability to draft well, but it’s what he’s not able to do once he acquires the talent. Sure, he lost assistant coaches Mike Zimmer (Vikings), Hugh Jackson (Browns), and Jay Gruden (Washington) over the last several years, but that doesn’t matter when you’re the man responsible for the product on the field.

Much like the Rams’ situation with head coach Jeff Fisher, it seems like it’s time for the Bengals to make a change. He’s widely considered one of the most successful coaches in franchise history, and is certainly credited with turning around a franchise left depleted under the tenures of Bruce Coslet and Dick LeBeau. Still, the franchise cannot waste another season in the prime of Green, Bernard, Eifert, Hill, and Dalton’s careers. The Bengals need to move on, and sooner rather than later to get a head start on the future direction of the franchise.

Stats courtesy of pro-footballreference.com

 

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Author: Thrive Nation

Amateur sports journalism blog, primarily posting about the latest happenings in EPL, MLB, NFL, and Boxing.

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