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 National Football League has developed another “guideline” that strikes a blow to the NFL of my childhood. Today the league decided that “throwback” jerseys were fine, but “throwback” helmits are not. No longer will we see the great helmits of yesteryear adorned by today’s NFL players. Among the casualties are the white Dallas Cowboy’s helmit, the Patriots minuteman helmit, and perhaps, my favorite helmit of all time, the original Tampa Bay Buccaneer helmit bearing the image of a pirate who became affectionately known as “Buccaneer Bruce.”
On Sunday, October 10, 1976, the Tampa Bay Bucs, in their inaugural season, came to Riverfront Stadium to play the Cincinnati Bengals. I was there to watch my hometown Bengals take on the newest NFL team with the greatest nickname ever. I was the 14 year old boy seated on the 30 yard line screaming his lungs out for both teams. In a bittersweet victory, the Bengals won the game 21-0 behind the AFC’s leading passer Ken Anderson.
Somehow, those now hideous creamsickle uniforms were so cool then. They had that sort of World Football League flair that made them so much different from the mostly drab uni’s of the established NFL dinosaurs. And the best part of the entire uniform was the knife wielding swashbuckler on the helmit. And now, he walks the plank and goes to a watery grave forevermore. Or at least until the rules committee meets together again!
In the meantime, I will mourn the loss of another age old feature of the NFL. No more “stick-um,” no more fumbles when the running back bounces off the frozen ground, no more whiplashing, bone crushing hits on the unsuspecting quarterback, and now, no more “Buccaneer Bruce” either. So long old friend. You will be missed.
- New league policy forces Bucs to scrap Bucco Bruce throwbacks (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Bucs: NFL rule blocks throwback uniforms (TBO.com)
- Bucs scrap plan for Creamsicle throwback jerseys (cbssports.com)