Marvin Lewis in 2016 extends his Bengals-record head coaching tenure to 14 seasons. The Bengals head coaches with the second-most years in the position have been Paul Brown (1968-75) and Sam Wyche (1984-91), each with eight seasons.
Lewis has led his teams to the postseason seven times, including the last five years. The total number of playoff trips and the current streak of consecutive appearances are also Bengals records. Only four NFL teams have reached the playoffs the last five years, including also Denver, Green Bay and New England. Lewis opens the 2016 season with 112 career victories, the most in Bengals history by a margin of 48 over Wyche (64).
Lewis’ record is 112-94-2 in the regular season and 112-101-2 including postseason. The Bengals’ 52-27-1 record over the last five regular seasons gives the team a .656 winning percentage for the span, ranked fifth in the NFL. The 2015 Bengals were widely considered as Lewis’ best team yet. Their 12-4 record said that, as it tied the 1981 and 1988 Super Bowl teams for the best winning percentage (.750) in a 16-game season in Bengals history. “This was definitely the best team I’ve played on,” said 10th-year OT Andrew Whitworth. “And there are all kinds of reasons to look ahead and not behind.” But Lewis’ 13th season did include a number of other highlights:
● Cincinnati finished second in the NFL and first in the AFC in scoring defense, at 17.4 points allowed per game. The No. 2 NFL ranking was the highest in franchise history.
● The Bengals finished second in franchise history in average scoring differential, outscoring foes 419-279 for an average of 8.8 points per game.
● The team’s 8-0 start set a franchise mark for most consecutive wins within a season and tied the club mark for most consecutive wins regardless of seasons.
● QB Andy Dalton continued his outstanding development, winning the AFC passing title with a Bengals-record 106.3 rating.
● The Bengals had eight players selected for the Pro Bowl, second-most in club annals.
“There were a lot of positives for the guys,” Lewis said. “Guys came back from injuries and played at a high level. We did things better on offense and defense. On special teams, we had a lot of younger guys involved who will continue to play at a good level. But we have to earn our way back to the playoffs. And for all of us, it was a disappointing finish to the season.”
Lewis referred to Cincinnati’s playoff loss, 18-16 at home against Pittsburgh. But the Bengals played at a significant disadvantage down the stretch and in the playoff, as QB Dalton was shelved by a thumb fracture at the end of the first quarter of Game 13, Dec. 13 vs. Pittsburgh. Though AJ McCarron played well in relief, he had no significant game experience prior to the Dec. 13 Pittsburgh game, and he was understandably not able to match the overall effectiveness of a fifth-year pro (Dalton) enjoying his best season before the injury.
“You play the hand you’re dealt and move forward as best you can as a team,” Lewis said. “I’m proud of the way our whole team handled it, and if there’s any silver lining, it’s that we feel really good about our quarterback situation with Andy coming back and AJ having showed us what he did.”
Lewis ranks second in the NFL in longest current tenure with one team, trailing only Bill Belichick, who is in his 17th straight season with New England. In the category of most seasons as head coach with one or more teams, Lewis in 2016 ranks fifth among active coaches, behind Belichick (22nd season in ’16), Jeff Fisher (22), Andy Reid (18) and John Fox (15).
Lewis got a rare coaching-tree compliment after the 2013 season when his offensive and defensive coordinators, Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer, both moved on to head coaching jobs. Gruden was hired by Washington and Zimmer by Minnesota, and both former Bengals led their teams to the playoffs in 2015. Another Lewis coordinator, Hue Jackson, is moving from his Bengals offensive post to the head coaching job in Cleveland for 2016.
Lewis was the consensus choice as NFL Coach of the Year in 2009, when the Bengals won the AFC North Division while sweeping all six division games. The Bengals were AFC North champions under Lewis also in 2005 and ’13. Named the ninth head coach in Bengals history on Jan. 14, 2003, Lewis started quickly. His ’03 club finished 8-8, six games better than the ’02 club, good for the biggest improvement in the NFL.
Lewis came to the Bengals with credentials as a record-setting NFL defensive coordinator, having played a huge role in a championship season. His six seasons (1996-2001) as Baltimore Ravens coordinator included a Super Bowl victory in 2000, when his defense set the NFL record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game campaign (165). That team clipped 22 points off the previous mark. The 2000 Ravens are always an entry in discussions regarding the best NFL defensive units of all time.
In 2002, the season before he joined the Bengals, Lewis led the Washington Redskins to a No. 5 NFL defensive ranking, serving as assistant head coach as well as defensive coordinator. He had his first NFL assignment from 1992-95, as linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He aided the development of four Pro Bowl players — Kevin Greene, Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland and Greg Lloyd.
Lewis began his coaching career as linebackers coach at his alma mater Idaho State from 1981-84. ISU’s team (also nicknamed the Bengals) finished 12-1 in Lewis’ first season there and won the NCAA Division 1-AA championship.
Lewis played LB at Idaho State, earning All-Big Sky Conference honors for three consecutive years (1978-80). He also saw action at quarterback and free safety during his college career. He received his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Idaho State in 1981, and earned his master’s in athletic administration in ’82. He was inducted into Idaho State’s Hall of Fame in 2001. Born Sept. 23, 1958, Lewis attended Fort Cherry High School in McDonald, Pa. (near Pittsburgh), where he was an all-conference quarterback and safety. He also earned high school letters in wrestling and baseball. He and his wife, Peggy, have a daughter, Whitney, and a son, Marcus. Marcus Lewis joined the Bengals’ coaching staff for 2014 and remains on the staff for ’16.
Playing and coaching history: 1978-80—Played linebacker, quarterback and safety, Idaho State. 1981-84—Assistant coach (AC), Idaho State. 1985-86—AC, Long Beach State. 1987-89—AC, New Mexico. 1990-91— AC, University of Pittsburgh. 1992-95—AC, Pittsburgh Steelers. 1996-2001— Defensive coordinator, Baltimore Ravens. 2002—Assistant head coach/ defensive coordinator, Washington Redskins. 2003-present—Head coach, Cincinnati Bengals.