By HCR Staff | Aug. 28, 2018
Between now and the start of the 2018 season, Head Coach Ranking will provide a scouting report on all 32 NFL head coaches. Today, we’ll take a look at Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.
The winningest head coach in Bengals history, there was much speculation about Lewis’ future after the 2017 season. Lewis, however, decided to return after receiving a contract extension, albeit a short one.
Lewis has done a rock solid job during his tenure as Bengals head coach. Prior to his arrival, the Bengals suffered through numerous losing seasons. Since then, the Bengals have been a frequent playoff contender, although Lewis has not yet notched a playoff victory (0-7).
One of the tougher aspects about being head coach of the Bengals is the team’s ownership — it has a reputation for being difficult and relatively tight-fisted. Lewis, however, has done relatively well within this environment. He is a drama-free head coach, and his tenure also has spawned his own coaching tree (Mike Zimmer, Jay Gruden, Vance Joseph, Hue Jackson).
Another difficult aspect to the Bengals’ head coaching position is that the Bengals place a great deal of reliance on the coaches to conduct scouting of players. Doing so saves the organization money by not having to hire as many scouts, but the coaches have added responsibilities. It’s just something else Lewis has to manage that other head coaches don’t have to worry about and expend energy on.
As an in-game decision-maker. Lewis is fairly reliable. He isn’t a top tier strategist, but he is more fundamental than not. Last season was one of the more difficult ones for Lewis, however. Much of it was related to offensive struggles; much due to the promotion of Ken Zampese to OC. This offseason, Lewis made a change and promoted QB coach Bill Lazor. We believe Lazor will do a much more effective job unlocking the talent that exists on the Cincinnati offense. However, Lazor is not among the more decorated offensive coordinators in the league, so this does raise some mild concern.
On defense, Lewis lost DC Paul Guenther to Jon Gruden the Raiders. Lewis hired veteran Teryl Austin as a replacement. Austin has had success, and he inherits a fairly veteran unit.
Lewis has done a good job through the years of developing young talent and utilizing it properly. Some of these players are the best in the league at their position or among the best (A.J. Green, Geno Atkins, Tyler Eifert, etc.).
We see two areas in need of improvement for Lewis. In our view, he has to improve the game-to-game consistency. There are games where the Bengals look like Super Bowl contenders, and then there are games where they show no energy. When you watch a Bengals game, you simply don’t know what you will get, but you also aren’t surprised by either outcome.
The other area in need of improvement has to do with discipline. The Bengals simply lose discipline during games at times and this has hurt them tremendously. Emotional outbursts during games are too common an occurrence. While we suspect Lewis must spend a tremendous amount of time emphasizing disciplined play, the Bengals have struggled with this.
After racking up five straight postseason appearances (2011-15), Lewis has had back-to-back losing seasons. There is a lot of young and veteran athleticism on the Bengals’ roster (Joe Mixon, John Ross, Green, Eifert, Billy Price, Atkins, Carlos Dunlap). This division is hard-fought each year. If Lewis’ team can play with a bit more consistency and the offense gets back on track, 2018 could bring a winning record.
Previous HC Previews:
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
Steve Wilks, Arizona Cardinals
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions
Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears
Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins
Pat Shurmr, New York Giants
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles
Jon Gruden, Oakland Raiders
Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos
Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers
Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns