Cincinnati Bengals: 99 Problems

By Derek Allen

Every year in pro sports you hear about coaches on the proverbial hot seat; the Cincinnati Bengals have 99 problems but a coach ain’t one. The end of 2010 was especially difficult for Marvin Lewis until he signed a 2 year contract extension earlier this year keeping him on the payroll until 2013.

Maybe Michael “Mike” Brown (son of legendary coach Paul Brown) doesn’t want to fire Lewis because there would be no one left to blame for the sorry state of football in the Queen City.

Browns’s Bengals have set numerous records for NFL futility during his tenure including losing 200 games faster and winning 100 games slower than any team in NFL history. With a .361 winning percentage (115-201-1), the Bengals have only had 2 winning seasons out if the last 20.

  Brown is incredibly loyal with his coaches, perhaps even to a fault.

David Shula lost 50 out of 69 games, setting the ignominius record for the fastest to lose 50 games in NFL history and Bruce Coslet resigned with a 21-39 record. Marvin Lewis has been his most successful coach during the regular season with a 60-67-1 (.471) record.

   Firing Lewis may be the popular opinion in Cincinnati, but it isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Brown knows Lewis can coach. He also knows how much he interferes with his job on a daily basis.   

Keeping Lewis may not sell tickets but it at least makes sense. Cincy’s only 2 winning seasons in the last 20 were both division champion teams under Lewis. Although he has had 5 out of 8 seasons of .500 ball or better, hard-core fans blame him for the team’s 10-game losing streak in 2010, tied for the worst in franchise history with Shula’s 1993 disaster.

                         The 2010 team had much better talent                                          with much higher expectations.

Heading into the 2011 season there are a lot of unknowns to be worked out. Will QB Carson Palmer reconcile with Brown? Will Brown back out of making personnel decisions and let coach Marvin Lewis in? Is a covered practice facility in the Bengal’s future. Or will the NFL’s smallest scouting department get an upgrade?

Also unknown, whether the hiring of Jay Gruden as offensive coordinator was a step up for the offense, or just  a stepping-stone for Gruden.

Perhaps Brown knows what Lewis has known all along; he’s the best coach money can buy because lately he’s the only one willing to put up with one of the most inept owners in the NFL. Or perhaps they both know that it is better to dance with the devil you know than the one you don’t.



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