If there was any doubt, Chris Mortensen removed it Thursday night.
ESPN’s NFL insider called Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis a “lame duck” on the air; strong words from a man that chooses them carefully. (Sometimes too carefully. Mort needs to let it fly a little more and quit worrying about offending someone if he says something negative.)
The news of Lewis’ demise won’t come as a huge surprise to Bengals fans who know he has no control of the locker room (see: Ochocinco, Chad) and is operating in the final year of his contract. It spoke volumes that owner Mike Brown didn’t give Lewis an extension last year after winning the AFC North championship.
So, who will the Bengals turn to? Well, set your expectations extremely low and you might not be disappointed. That’s the approach I’m taking.
First of all, there is no way a big-time coach on the market would come to Cincinnati. Guys like Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden — proven coaches of that ilk. Brown blew it when Tom Coughlin basically begged him to be the Bengals’ head coach in 2003 when the job went to Lewis. Coughlin went to the Giants a year later and has won a Super Bowl. What part about Coughlin’s rein in Jacksonville didn’t Brown like? Oh, that’s right: Coughlin wants too much control. You know, of things like the locker room. Doesn’t matter where he goes, that man wins. Nice going there, Mikey Boy. You chose … poorly. (And to be clear, it didn’t even come down to Coughlin vs. Lewis in 2003. Coughlin was eliminated after he had the gall to tell Brown his detailed plan to getting the Bengals back on the right track. The job came down to Lewis vs. Mike Mularkey. And Brown actually offered the job to Mularkey at one point, who wanted more time to think it over.)
I have a feeling the job might go to defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. I am hoping the Bengals will find a proven offensive coach like Gruden as the head coach who would then retain Zim as defensive coordinator, but again, I don’t think someone like Gruden would take the job. (Plus, there might be an opportunity for him in Dallas.) So, I could see Brown “settling” on Zimmer once he finds it difficult to get a good coach to as much interview with his cheap ass. (Still no indoor practice facility, Mike? Really? Your father is probably ashamed of you and what you’ve done to his franchise. There is a reason you are the joke of every NFL meeting you attend.)
Whoever the new coach is will have an interesting situation at right tackle as Andre Smith will miss the rest of this season after breaking his left foot for the second time in as many years. So, the new coach will have Smith coming off injury, likely vastly overweight and it will be intriguing to see how it plays out. Could Smith get cut next year? It wouldn’t shock me. It will also be interesting to see what happens at wide receiver. I would certainly like to see the team re-sign Terrell Owens to a one-year contract (with more money this time of course).