I like Marvin Lewis. A lot. I like the professional way in which he has represented the Bengals over the years. I like the way he has reached out to players in personal distress and seen many of them turn their lives around. I like the many contributions he has made to his community. Coach Marvin Lewis has exemplified likability and loyalty which are two character qualities that go a long way with owner Mike Brown and the Cincinnati fan base.
However, there comes a time when NFL coaches need to win football games. That time has come for Marvin Lewis and the Bengals. We all know what a tremendous man Coach Lewis is. He has proven himself in those areas, but its time to win.
Yesterday’s loss is clearly on Coach Lewis and his staff. The Bengals are are a clearly superior team to the Cleveland Browns. Many have predicted the Bengals to play in the Super Bowl, or at least go deep into the play-offs. They have added tremendous talent on both sides of the ball. They have drafted well and made key free agents acquisitions. They have a quality team that is loaded with talent and ability.
So why does such a talented and superior team line-up against a struggling opponent and play as poorly as the Bengals played yesterday? Coaching. Preparing a team to play well and demanding that from your players is squarely on the head coach. And it appears that Marvin Lewis, as likable as he may be, simply cannot get his team fired up enough to beat an inferior opponent with a quarterback making only is second start in the NFL.
The Bengals were not just defeated yesterday. They were manhandled. The high powered offense that supposedly makes defensive coordinators lose sleep was totally silenced by the Browns defense. The Bengals ferocious defensive front allowed a rookie quarterback to play like a Hall of Famer. No passion. No emotion. No determination to win, and that is on the head coach. Perhaps losing has become acceptable to an organization so familiar with it.
If it were not for a double fumble and a crazy, fortuitous bounce at the end of the Bengals-Packers game the team with such a high ceiling would be 1-3 right now. With the Patriots next on the schedule don’t expect winning to get any easier in the near future.
I like that I like you Coach Lewis, but the time has come to win.
The Bengals head to the Windy City for their season opener against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Bears will line up on Soldier Field without Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Brian Urlacher, Walter Payton, or even the “Fridge.”
They will have Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, and Deven Hester in uniform and available to play. Problem is, that doesn’t seem like nearly enough against the newly jacked Cincinnati Bengals. Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis have loaded this team with all sorts of offensive talent and Mike Zimmer has built an imposing defense anchored by Geno Atkins in the middle.
With Jay Cutler playing like, uh, Jay Cutler, and Brandon Marshall being dinged up, don’t expect the Bears to make much impact through the air. The O-line will have trouble with Cincinnati’s ferocious front seven and Cutler will have little time to distribute the ball. For the Bears to stay in the game Matt Forte will have to pound out 100+ yards and a few touchdowns.
Meanwhile, look for Andy Dalton to spread the wealth to his bonanza of big time offensive playmakers. Obviously, A.J. Green will continue to be his “go to” guy but expect Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham to catch some balls down the field as well. The run game should be much improved with the addition of Gio Bernard along with the “Law Firm,” Ben-Jarvus Green Ellis.
No “shuffle” for the Bears this weekend. Prediction: Cincinnati 27 – Chicago 10