Posted on December 17, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The end of an era is coming in Cincinnati. Hours before the team’s Week 15 game against the Vikings, reports surfaced indicating that Marvin Lewis is planning to step down as head coach of the Bengals following the season. Lewis is not under contract beyond the 2017 season. It’s not the first time he’s coached a season without a contract for the following season. But this time he will not be looking to renew his deal with the Bengals. ESPN‘s Adam Schefter is reporting that Lewis will leave the Bengals and “pursue opportunities elsewhere” after the season.
The Bengals are yet to comment on the reports that Lewis plans to leave. However, the move appears to be mutual. The Bengals will miss the playoffs in 2017 for the second consecutive year. Heading into Sunday, Cincinnati is 11-17-1 over the past two years. After such a drop in wins following more than a decade of consistency, there’s no guarantee the Bengals would have offered Lewis a contract for 2018. This way, Lewis can get a head start on finding another job while the Bengals can have a head start on finding a new coach.
Lewis is currently the second-longest tenured head coach in the NFL, behind only Bill Belichick. He has spent the last 15 years as head coach of the Bengals, amassing a record of 123-111-3 heading into Sunday’s game against the Vikings. When he took over in 2003, the Bengals were coming off a 2-14 season and had a 12-season playoff drought. He quickly turned things around, taking the Bengals to the playoffs in 2005 and six more times after that.
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However, Lewis was unable to lead Cincinnati to a playoff win in seven tries. Even with four division titles during his tenure, Lewis’ time with the Bengals will always be defined in large part by the team’s lack of playoff success. Such a legacy is a little unfair to Lewis. But it will be tough for some fans to get past a 0-7 playoff record.
While Lewis is planning to leave Cincinnati, those close to him say he has no intention of retiring. Lewis is reportedly open to pursuing a head coaching job elsewhere in the NFL. In a few short weeks, there figure to be a multitude of head coaches fired throughout the league. Considering his experience, Lewis is likely to receive interest and interview requests from many of those teams searching for a new head coach.
If he can’t land another head coaching job, Lewis would reportedly be interested in a front office job. He may even be willing to settle for a job as an assistant coach or coordinator. Several current NFL head coaches have served as assistants under Lewis. He would likely prefer to join one of them, perhaps Mike Zimmer, Hue Jackson, or Vance Joseph.
In the end, it’s not that big of a surprise that Lewis won’t be back with the Bengals in 2018. Lewis actually made a smart move by deciding to step down before the team had a chance to let him go. Despite a lack of playoff success, Lewis has had a great 15-year run in Cincinnati. All things considered, the Bengals should be pleased with the job he did.