After 16 years in his role, the Cincinnati Bengals fired head coach Marvin Lewis. He told his staff this morning that, per Mike Brown, he is no longer the leader of this team. The only coach with a longer tenure than Lewis is Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots for 19 years.
Marvin Lewis has informed his #Bengals staff he's out as coach, source said. Owner Mike Brown made the decision.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 31, 2018
Cincinnati Bengals Fire Head Coach Marvin Lewis After 16 Seasons
As the 2017 season came to a close, it was rumored that Lewis was done in Cincinnati. However, the Bengals decided to go all in on Lewis in hope of making a postseason run and signed him to a two-year contract. This contract came after several heartbreaking ends to the season, and fans felt the team should have parted ways with him. This caused a significant decrease in game attendance. For the first time since 2011, the team only managed to sell 50,754 tickets per game and played to a half-empty stadium, especially toward the end of this season.
Failing to Get Over the Hump
Lewis changed the culture in Cincinnati when he arrived in 2003. He led the team to its first playoff appearance since 1990. Under his tenure as head coach, the Bengals played in Wildcard games in 2005, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. The 2015 Wildcard loss to division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, was exceptionally heartbreaking for the Bengals. Had the defense not given up yards from penalties late in the fourth quarter, that game could have played out differently. Since this playoff meltdown, this team hasn’t seen any football fields after Week 17.
Failing to win any of these playoff games ultimately made the decision easy for Brown. Lewis helped reestablish a winning culture and a deep desire for success, but he couldn’t help them get over that last hump.
In Lewis’s last meeting with Cincinnati media, he admitted that he did not deliver. When asked what his message would be for the team moving forward, he said, “Hold the passion of yesterday.” Saying goodbye to their longest-tenure head coach is certainly bittersweet, but it seems this man could only take the team so far.
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