To win a Superbowl, you have to win in the playoffs. Marvin Lewis has been to the playoffs five times. His playoff record? 0-5. That's second worst of all time. Worst postseason record of all time? Jim Mora at 0-6. The difference? Mora set this record coaching for multiple teams. Cincinnati has stuck next to Marvin Lewis blindly even though he is seemingly incapable of taking this team to the next level.
You can't blame the quarterback for this failure; he's lost with Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer, and for most of his first playoff game Jon Kitna under center. You can't blame it on the kicker. Mike Nugent and Shayne Graham have both been sloppy in the postseason for Cincinnati. You can't blame it on the coordinators; Lewis has changed both offensive and defensive coordinators during his 0-5 playoff losing streak. You can't blame depth either. This is one of the deeper rosters in the NFL, and that depth is a credit to Lewis' talent as a GM. The fact is, every single time the Bengals are in a postseason game, the team comes out woefully unprepared to play and looks confused and sloppy.
It's not just playoff games where Lewis falters, however. Marvin Lewis habitually drops the ball in most high pressure games. Today's game against the Steelers was much like a playoff game. It was an intense, high-stress game with huge playoff implications. Cincinnati responded by dropping the ball after leading the game in the first half. Lewis failed to prep the team for the second half, and they choked. Did anyone see the results of the Bengals-Patriots game? That's right, they choked. What about Bengals-Browns in prime time? Choked again. The Bengals last prime time game in the regular season is against the Broncos on December 22nd. Get your Broncos ready for fantasy, because Cincinnati will most likely implode again that night.
This week's loss at the Steelers was not a prime time game, but Lewis himself has admitted to having trouble with prime time games. Looking back historically, Lewis has generally faltered in big games. In 2013, the Bengals played 3 prime time games. They lost in two of them. They headed into the playoffs against a Chargers team they defeated in the regular season, and looked terrible. They lost, 10-27, in one of the worse postseason performances in recent history.
In 2012, the Bengals also played 3 prime time games, again with a record of 1-2. Again, they headed into the playoffs, this time against the Houston Texans and lost. In 2011 they didn't have any prime time games, but nonetheless made the postseason, and lost, to the Texans. This game was a train wreck of a game and the Bengals looked terrible. In 2010, Marvin Lewis's Bengals had 2 prime time games, and lost both of them en route to a 4-12 record.
2009? One prime time game, one embarrassing loss, 37-0, to the Jets. Then they faced the Jets in the playoffs, and lost. 2008? One prime time game, one loss. So far we're at a prime time record of 2-8 in prime time and 0-3 in the playoffs. 2007? 1-3 in prime time for a total record of 3-11. The team failed to make the playoffs that season.
I could go back farther, but I think there's enough data here. Over the past 7 years, counting this season, Marvin Lewis is a combined 3-13 in prime time games. This isn't even counting his first few seasons from 2003 to 2006. He consistently drops the ball in high pressure games, as is further evidenced by his 0-5 record career record as a head coach in the postseason. Cincinnati, it is time to move on.
Why has Cincinnati been so reluctant to cut ties with Marvin Lewis? I think a part of it comes down to team owner Mike Brown's sense of loyalty. He has built a strong level of trust with coach Marvin Lewis, and is hesitant to cut ties with long-time coaches and players. Brown is loyal to a fault at times, and that may be one reason why Marvin Lewis is still around as head coach. Simple fix? Move Lewis to GM and bring in a head coach.
A second potential reason for sticking with Lewis is that Mike Brown has had notoriously bad luck with head coaches before Marvin Lewis. Dave Shula, Bruce Coslet, and Dick LeBeau were all notoriously bad head coaches. Perhaps Brown is hesitant to jump in and risk another bad head coach. Perhaps Brown also believes in Lewis' ability to take this team to the next level. However, by allowing the Steelers to score 25 points in the 4th quarter en route to losing a major game in the playoff race, Marvin Lewis has once again proven that he is not the guy to take this team to the next level.
Cincinnati, I implore you. Bring in a new head coach for the 2015 season. This is a great young team brimming with talent, and they deserve a coach that will take them deep into the playoffs. This team has the talent to be a legitimate Superbowl contender. The only thing lacking is the coaching and preparation needed to take them there. If Mike Brown and the Bengals truly want to win, then this will be Marvin Lewis' last season in stripes. I'm predicting another first round loss in the playoffs, if this team makes the playoffs. Unless Lewis can somehow string together a late-season run and take this team deep into the postseason, it's time to move on. These players deserve it, and the Bengals fans who have not seen a playoff victory in 23 seasons deserve it. It's time to make some changes. Marvin Lewis for GM in 2015!