Other than enjoying a few visits when residing in Indianapolis, I have no allegiance to the Queen City. That said, I was a constant critic of Cincinnati’s baseball manager, who was rightly fired after another postseason choke job in October. Therefore, to be fair, I see the same things with the city’s football coach and believe Marvin Lewis should be axed after another playoff debacle Sunday.
The National Football League is not a public school. There is no tenure, no perpetual job security and results matter. Yet Lewis, who just wrapped up his 11th campaign with the team, is the second longest-tenured coach in the league. Only New England’s Bill Belichick (three super bowl titles, five conference titles and 73 percent wins) has coached longer with one team.
Why is Lewis – who is barely over .500, has missed the playoffs in more than half his years at the helm, and overseeing ugly first round exits in all five postseason appearances (four at home) – still collecting a paycheck?
There was a lot riding on Sunday’s wild card game along the Ohio River against a San Diego Chargers team that was 5-7 and all but declared dead a month ago. The game didn’t really sell out, and fans (yes, just fans since may players don’t know or care about history) were “starving” for the team’s first playoff triumph since George H. W. Bush was in office. Even the NFL promoted a cliche-laden story about Lewis and the 2013 team, ignoring his past record.
But by the middle of the third quarter, the same story was being written as years past: questionable play-calling, dropped balls in key spots, erratic throws from Cincy’s signal-caller, four turnovers, a lackluster defense and seemingly ill-unprepared players. And, as the skies opened and rain drenched depressed fans, the Bengals were on their way home early again. San Diego outscored Cincinnati 20-0 in the second half.
Lewis is now 0-5 in the playoffs. Dusty Baker was 2-7 in the postseason, and was only granted six years before termination. Maybe the Reds’ front office has less patience than 78-year-old Bengals’ owner Mike Brown?
Here is a mind-boggling fact: every single NFL team has won a playoff game since Cincinnati last did in 1990.
The Bengals, despite one of football’s best offenses, have become the first franchise in two decades to lose their opening playoff game in three consecutive seasons.
What more evidence is needed?
Surely someone like Marty Schottenheimer, a more successful coach than Lewis, but one who also struggled in January, wonders.