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Is time running out on Marvin Lewis?


Is time running out on Marvin Lewis?
On Mondays during the NFL offseason, FOXSports.com senior NFL writer Alex Marvez will address the big moves of the preceding week, the big storylines of the upcoming week and the draft, and free agency implications for both.


Storyline of the Week

The Cincinnati Bengals begin their offseason workout program.

Bengals owner Mike Brown can be called a lot of things.

Impetuous isn't one of them.

If he were, Marvin Lewis would have been fired long, long ago. Only two head coaches in the free-agency era — and few in NFL history — have kept the same job for so long without winning a playoff game.

Mike Holmgren needed seven years for his first postseason victory in Seattle. Jim Mora lasted 10½ seasons in New Orleans before resigning without a playoff win.

But both coaches had led their teams to multiple postseason berths. That's far more than what Lewis has accomplished.

Cincinnati has reached the playoffs just once since Lewis became head coach in 2003. Since that first-round loss to Pittsburgh in 2005, the Bengals have gotten progressively worse. A 4-11-1 finish in 2008 dropped Lewis' overall record to 46-50-1.

Twenty-six teams have switched head coaches since Lewis was hired, 12 of them on multiple occasions. If so many Bengals games weren't already airing on CBS, the network should try casting Lewis in the next season of Survivor.

Credit (or blame) for Lewis' longevity belongs directly to Brown. The public perception is that Lewis remains largely because the tight-fisted Brown doesn't want to pay off a contract that runs through the 2010 season. While there may be validity to such sentiment, Brown has other reasons to keep Lewis.

Start with the family tree. Brown is the son of NFL icon Paul Brown. The spot Mike Brown has in his heart for head coaches became even softer when his late father was fired by then-Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell after the 1962 season.

Brown has given such previous Bengals failures as David Shula (19-52 record) and Bruce Coslet (21-39) ample time to resurrect his franchise. In fact, Paul Brown Stadium — the place where Lewis works every day — is named after someone who didn't win a playoff game during his seven seasons as Bengals coach. Mike Brown has faith in Lewis just like Dallas did in Tom Landry, who didn't notch a playoff victory until his ninth season.

As team owner and general manager, Brown also is insistent upon having final say on all major football decisions despite almost two decades of on-field futility. Brown, who turns 72 this year, doesn't seem particularly interested in trying to bond with a new coach who would have to adapt to his hands-on management style.

Asked about his Bengals tenure last week at the NFL owners meeting in Dana Point, Calif., Lewis said he has "gratitude" for Brown's unwavering support.

"When I signed the last contract extension after the '05 season, the thing Mike said was, 'I have more patience than you do. There's going to be some tough times ahead that people don't realize,' " Lewis said.

"Unfortunately, he's been right. I think his thing for me was to be patient and know there may be some pitfalls along the way that I didn't foresee coming."

The road was especially rocky in 2008. Wide receiver Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson set the stage early in the offseason, embarrassing himself and the franchise with his shameless lobbying to get traded. Johnson was then hurt during the preseason and enjoyed his least productive campaign since 2002.

News and rumors:

  • KC signs Goff to guard Cassel
  • Saints add to struggling secondary
  • Report: Gonzo wants trade from Chiefs
  • Jets add safety to aerial defense
  • Beats ink OT to 3-year deal
  • NFL CUT LIST BY TEAM

Analysis:

  • Scout.com: Garcia's phone to ring soon
  • Schein: Belichick's dominant offseason
  • Czar: Agent Bus Cook does it again
  • Marvez: The NFL's Dirtied Dozen vets
  • Scout.com: Top 20 FAs | Who's left?
  • SCOUT.COM FREE-AGENCY RANKINGS

Player Trackers:

    Track offseason moves by your favorite team and division.
  • NFC EAST | NORTH | SOUTH | WEST
  • AFC EAST | NORTH | SOUTH | WEST

Under-the-radar move — Will Witherspoon is shifting from middle to outside linebacker under new St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo. While a productive tackler in the middle, it was Witherspoon's weakside play in Carolina that earned him a six-year, $33 million free-agent contract in 2006. Witherspoon can make a bigger impact as an outside pass rusher while capable veteran Chris Draft mans the middle. Spagnuolo still has plenty of rebuilding ahead, but this is a good start.

Highlights from this week's calendar

  • Tuesday (March 31): Tampa Bay holds its first minicamp under new coach Raheem Morris. At 32, Morris is younger than Bucs quarterback Brian Griese and cornerback Ronde Barber.

  • Wednesday (April 1): The "informal deadline" that 49ers coach Mike Singletary has set to learn whether wide receiver Isaac Bruce will retire or continue playing. Bruce, 36, led the 49ers in receiving last season but will likely become the No. 2 wideout with San Francisco signing former Tennessee starter Brandon Jones in free agency.

  • Wednesday (April 1): Southern Cal holds a star-studded Pro Day that includes top draft prospects like QB Mark Sanchez and LBs Rey Maualuga and Clay Matthews.

  • Thursday (April 2): St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger gets his first taste of running a West Coast offense during the Rams' first offseason minicamp.

    Alex Marvez interviewed Marcus Freeman and Mike McCarthy while hosting on Sirius NFL Radio.



    Author:Fox Sports
    Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
    Added: March 31, 2009

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