Marvin Lewis out as Bengals coach after 16 seasons

The Cincinnati Bengals and head coach Marvin Lewis are finally parting ways.

The team made the move on Monday, ending Lewis’ long run with the Bengals. Lewis was the league’s second-longest tenured head coach, having guided Cincinnati for 16 seasons. That was second only to New England’s Bill Belichick, who is at 19 seasons and counting.

The winningest coach in the history of the Bengals, Lewis appeared to be out the door last year but instead signed a two-year extension.

After a 6-10 season and third straight season without a playoff appearance, it was time for a fresh start.

Lewis, Bengals ‘mutually part ways’

It appears Lewis was fired, which is a bit of a surprise.

UPDATE: Via a post on the Bengals’ website, the sides “mutually decided to part ways.”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Dec. 23 about the future of another coach on the hot seat, the Denver Broncos’ Vance Joseph (Joseph was also fired on Monday), and said Joseph would be a top candidate for the Bengals’ defensive coordinator position or even head coach “when Lewis decides he has had enough of coaching.”

That indicated Bengals owner Mike Brown wasn’t pushing Lewis out the door. But reports on Monday said Brown made the decision not to bring Lewis back.

Last year, Brown said he worked out the two-year extension for Lewis because Cincinnati finished the season on a high note, with two wins.

NFL coaches fired after 2018 regular season
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NFL coaches fired after 2018 regular season

Todd Bowles, New York Jets

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos

(Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Steve Wilks, Arizona Cardinals

(Photo by Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


Regular-season success, postseason failures

Lewis’ tenure in Cincinnati will largely be remembered for his postseason failures.

But not to be forgotten is that Lewis helped turn around a moribund franchise. The Bengals snapped a 14-year run of sub-.500 (with one exception), playoff-less seasons in Lewis’ third year, 2005. Cincinnati went to the postseason six out of seven years from 2009-2015.

However, Lewis could never get the Bengals past the first weekend of the playoffs.

Of those seven postseason appearances, the Bengals lost in the wild-card round every time.
Their worst loss may have been the most recent. In 2015, they went 12-4, losing out on a first-round bye to the New England Patriots by a tiebreaker. Cincinnati hosted their divisional rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and were in a 15-0 hole to start the third quarter.

The Bengals fought back, taking a 16-15 lead with just under two minutes to play behind backup quarterback AJ McCarron, who was filling in for injured Andy Dalton. Then the defense intercepted Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones on Pittsburgh’s next snap (Ben Roethlisberger was out of the game briefly).

However, running back Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball away on the Bengals’ next play and the Steelers recovered. Pittsburgh got into field-goal position thanks to some personal-foul penalties on the Bengals, and made the game-winning field goal with seconds to play.

That set a record for most playoff losses without a win by any coach in NFL history, something that will be a big part of Lewis’ legacy in Cincinnati.

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