The Cincinnati Bengals’ season has come to an end. Some fans are content with the winning season and matching the franchise victory mark of 12-4. But the performance given by the Bengals as time expired in Saturday night’s Wild Card game was disgraceful. The whispers have turned to shouts. After another embarrassing playoff meltdown, it may be time for Marvin Lewis to step down.
There’s no denying Lewis has built a monster team since 2011. Along with Duke Tobin, Director of Player Personnel, Lewis has done wonders. The Bengals have been able to reach the playoffs five years in a row. With the parity of the NFL, that’s quite an accomplishment. But is it enough to hold a job when each appearance has ended in a loss?
Former Bengals MVP and Super Bowl XXIII quarterback Boomer Esiason was angry and almost on the verge of tears after the game. As he sat with other analysts, he was shocked and visibly shaken by what the Bengals gave the nation. His angry rant, per CBS Sports, was uncut and straight to the point.
“I’m a former Bengal. I’m embarrassed by the way that this game ended and by the way these guys carried themselves on the football field today, I feel bad for Marvin Lewis. And I’ll tell you one thing, if Marvin Lewis can’t control his players, then maybe Marvin Lewis shouldn’t be on the sideline coaching.”
Throughout the postgame show, Esiason made his feelings known.
“This was a disgraceful performance by the Cincinnati Bengals,” Esiason admitted. “An ugly performance by one, Vontaze Burfict.”
Trying to win their first playoff appearance in 25 years, the Bengals completely melted down. After completing a miraculous comeback from a 15-0 deficit, the Bengals were in control of the game. The game was essentially won, with less than two minutes on the clock. That’s when Cincinnati became the team that most of America was used to seeing.
Former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher was just as amazed as Boomer.
“Vontaze Burfict… He lost it during the game. That’s on the head coach.”
Feedback about Lewis was also supplied by NFL rules expert Mike Pereira of Fox Sports. He was also unimpressed with the coaching performance.
“Although I respect him greatly, Marvin Lewis lost control of his team,” Pereira said.
The Bengals players were on edge all night. But the importance of the game should have been drummed into their heads before Saturday. The Week 14 game against the Steelers should have been enough encouragement for any Bengals player to just walk away.
The Steelers aren’t exactly innocent victims. Ryan Shazier knocked out Giovanni Bernard with a hit that seemed to be initiated by his helmet. Shazier wasn’t penalized, and the Steelers recovered Bernard’s fumble. That hit seemed to turn up the anger of the Bengals. Jones complained that Porter — known for some big hits of his own as a player — was on the field illegally when Adam Jones was penalized.
The biggest question is surrounding Lewis, Burfict, and Jones. Will they be back after the performance they gave? Both Burfict and Jones are passionate players. They need direction to channel that fire into championship wins. Marvin Lewis may not be the man to do it, according to Esiason and Cowher. Once again, the head coach is responsible for cooler heads.
The Wild Card game will probably go down as one of the biggest chokes in Bengals franchise history. It had the makings of a classic comeback game. It could have been remembered as the game AJ McCarron won in the fourth quarter. It could have been the crowning moment for a coach looking for his first playoff win. But none of that will be considered.
The only thing that will be remembered about January 9, 2016 will be the way another Marvin Lewis-led team melted down under the bright lights. He has another year left on his contract. But it may be time for Marvin Lewis to step down.
[Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images]