Monday Musings: Bengals' season is likely over and so too is the Marvin Lewis era
Once thought to be a Super Bowl contender, Bengals fall to 3-7-1 and fruitless Lewis era could be over
Thud. Smack. Bang.
Use any loud noise you want to describe a window being slammed shut, and that's what they're hearing in Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Bengals ' window, the one with Marvin Lewis leading the team to five straight postseason appearances, is about to be slammed shut. Cincinnati, which entered the season as one of the favorites in the AFC North and a legitimate Super Bowl contender, fell to 3-7-1 on Sunday by losing 19-14 to the Baltimore Ravens .
That means the season is over and the Lewis era could be as well.
If it is, it has been a nice run for a team that was a laughingstock for a long time before Lewis got to Cincinnati in 2003, but a non-playoff season, even with all the injuries, will make it tough to bring Lewis back. He is under contract through the 2017 season after getting a one-year extension this spring, which could mean he's back for another season, but that might be pushing it.
There were many calling for his head after the Bengals lost in the playoffs to the Pittsburgh Steelers last January in a game that featured an utter meltdown by the Bengals to blow it, complete with a lack of discipline. But that was absurd then when Lewis just went to the playoffs five straight times and played that game without injured quarterback Andy Dalton .
Even so, it likely made it so he had to get back to the playoffs this year and maybe even win a game to assure himself another season.
That isn't happening now.
Lewis has been a successful coach, but when you go 0-7 in the playoffs and then have a disaster like this year, it's hard to justify Lewis coming back for another season -- even if there is some thinking the Bengals won't let him go with one-year left.
Fourteen seasons is a long time for a coach in one spot without a playoff victory. Lewis has a record of 115-101-3 in his 14 seasons with six seasons of double-digit victories. That's not awful. But it would be hard to imagine the Bengals bringing him back after this season.
The Bengals have had their share of injuries this season, and some players have looked flat-out old, but this is a really bad look for a team expected to be a Super Bowl contender.
If Lewis is out after the season, it has been a heck of a run. Fourteen years is a long time in one place in this era. But without a playoff victory, it would be hard to imagine owner Mike Brown bringing him back again.
More musings from around the NFL:
If the Seattle Seahawks can't fix that horrible offensive line, the great defense and the magic of Russell Wilson won't be able to save this season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat up the Seahawks Sunday in a 14-5 victory that saw Wilson sacked six times and hit a bunch more.
The Bucs weren't exactly lighting things up with their pass rush coming into the game, with 21 sacks on the season. But they dominated the Seattle line this week and Wilson struggled because of it. He threw two picks and didn't really sniff the end zone. This was an offense that came in rolling the past few weeks and the line, which was awful for the early part of the season, seemed to be improving.
There went that idea.
The Seahawks don't invest a lot in the offensive line because they think line coach Tom Cable can coach the players up. I am not sure that's the case here. That's how bad it is now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The flip side of that is the improvement of the Tampa Bay defense in recent weeks. Coordinator Mike Smith has a lot of young players who are getting better by the week. One of those is pass-rushing end Noah Spence , a rookie second-round pick. Spence had 1½ sacks against the Seahawks and forced a fumble. The return to health of Robert Ayers , who also had a sack, has helped the pass rush as well.
Smith did a nice job defending Wilson and the Seattle run game with his young defense. They still have some flaws -- like their safety play -- but they are coming together and the pressure up front can help compensate for that.
Los Angeles Rams
In his first NFL start last week, the Rams didn't let Jared Goff throw the ball down the field. It was as if there was some kind of glass pane past 10 yards. But in his first road start Sunday against the New Orleans Saints , they did and he threw three touchdown passes, including a dart to Tavon Austin for a 24-yard touchdown that he put in a perfect spot. He did lose a fumble and threw an interception, but the Rams have to be encouraged by what they got from him in the blowout loss to the Saints.
Yes, the Saints aren't great on defense but playing your first road game in the Superdome isn't easy.
With the improved play in a week, it does make one wonder why the Rams didn't play him all season long. And don't dare tell me sitting helped. It never does.
The Rams blew it. They aren't a playoff team, and they were never going to be a playoff team.
They fooled themselves and they delayed getting the Goff era started much too long.
New York Giants
If Jason Pierre-Paul can rush the passer the way he did against Cleveland, the Giants will be a big-time playoff factor. He had three sacks and returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown as the Giants beat up the bad Cleveland line. With Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon , the Giants have the edge rushers to attack the opposing quarterback. For much of the season, the two were providing pressure but not sacking the quarterback. Pierre-Paul did Sunday, looking like he did in his dominant years before injuring his hand in a fireworks accident in 2015.
Should the Houston Texans sit down quarterback Brock Osweiler ? No, of course not. But he needs to pick up his play. After signing a deal that pays him $18 million a year this spring as a free agent, Osweiler has been underwhelming -- and that might be kind. The Texans lost to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday and Osweiler threw three picks.
But it looks like he's staying as the starter, and he should. They have Tom Savage as his backup, but why pay a guy that money and then pull him out when his team is in first place. It makes no sense.
So Osweiler will and should be the quarterback for the rest of this season. After that, who knows?
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