When you can make Bengals fans fall in love with Mike Brown for the fist time, you’re doing something right. Even if they’re not using correct grammar. No, especially if they’re not using correct grammar.
Two years ago, the Bengals owner did something that would be considered an act of resounding stupidity for most owners, but it was just another typically foolish decision during his reign of madness. He allowed Marvin Lewis to not only enter his lame duck season without a contract extension, but to also finish that season without a contract and briefly enter coaching free agency. Brown did that despite his intention to retain Lewis, and then during contract talks it was determined that Lewis would come back, but he would only do it if he was given far greater control over the team’s personnel decisions.
That’s when the Bengals began to feature youth far more prominently, drafting Jermaine Gresham, Carlos Dunlap, Jordan Shipley, and most importantly, A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. Then they made the playoffs a year after winning only four games, and now there’s a positive vibe surrounding Cincy, making Lewis worthy of the two-year extension he received earlier this afternoon.
So in a way, Brown being the usual indecisive mess that he is actually helped the Bengals. Thanks?
The Bengals have made the playoffs just three times over the past 22 years, and Lewis has been the sideline boss for all three appearances. That’s splendid, but merely making the playoffs may soon become an insufficient achievement, as some semblance of post-season success will be required for the winningest coach in franchise history to remain on the only sideline where he’s held the title of head coach.
Lewis has an overall record of 69-74-1, but he’s lost all three of those playoffs appearances. That could have partly influenced the shorter term in his latest extension that will see him begin to face lame duck questions again at the end of next season. Or maybe Brown is just being his usual hesitant, meddling self.
Getting a team led by a rookie quarterback and a rookie receiver into the playoffs is a sizable accomplishment, especially after a nightmare season that ended with Carson Palmer presenting the front office with an ultimatum, and neither option involved him playing for the Bengals. The defensive-minded Lewis also oversaw a defense that allowed 316.2 total yards per game (7th), and 104.7 on the ground (10th).
Lewis will now primarily be relying on the continued maturation of Dalton to preserve his long-term job security. Leaning on the mind and arm of a 24-year-old quarterback in today’s passing league is a pretty good gig.