CINCINNATI – Marvin Lewis won't have to pack his bags. He’s staying for a 16th season as Bengals coach.
Lewis' arrival represented a stark departure for Bengals President Mike Brown. Always comfortable promoting from within, Brown reached outside his organization to hire Lewis in 2003,
It was a wise move.
Dick LeBeau had just delivered a 2-14 season. In the four years before that, the Bengals had won a grand total of 17 games. That’s a five-year record of 19-61.
Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken gave Lewis the keys to the city. The Bengals gave Lewis the keys to an aging chevy.
His best player, Corey Dillon, gave Lewis one season, then threw his shoulder pads into the stands and quit. The best player on the Bengals defense, Takeo Spikes, didn't even give Lewis that, skating in free agency just a month after Lewis arrived.
There is one phrase that will stick with Lewis in his time here:
It happened to the Bengals in one play, in that 2005 playoff game against the Steelers. Kimo von Oelhoffen hit Carson Palmer in the knee, blowing out several ligaments. On the same play, wide receiver Chris Henry went down with a knee injury, too.
Coincidentally, Palmer, 38, announced his retirement Tuesday, and Lewis, 59, is still going strong.
But now, Lewis goes to work on what can be. Were these last two years simply anomolies? Or more?
There are a lot of things to work on.
A big problem with Lewis’ teams under are prime-time efforts. The lights came on and the Bengals wilted. In 32 prime time games under Lewis, the Bengals won a grand total of nine. And their record against the Steelers is even worse: 32 games, and only eight wins.
But Lewis will get another chance to right some of that. Whether or not he gets more power, more say in whom his assistant coaches are and how well they're compensated are the devil in the details of his new agreement.
But for the moment, Mike Brown is staying the course. How many fans decide to walk it with him is an even bigger story.