Lewis on Bengals coaching future: 'We'll continue to talk'
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - There is still no decision if Marvin Lewis will be returning for a 16th season as Bengals head coach, he announced at a regularly scheduled press conference on Monday afternoon.
The 2017 season was the last one for Lewis under his current contract, and Lewis said both he and team president Mike Brown met on Monday morning to discuss the team and will continue to talk about his future as the team's head coach.
"We'll continue to talk," said Lewis. "I don't think it will draw on too long. I wish I could give you more news, but I can't."
No member of the Bengals front office attended the press conference, which began 33 minutes late. Lewis said that was because several players wanted to speak with him following an 11 a.m. team meeting.
Quarterback Andy Dalton and safety George Iloka both said Lewis didn't say anything to the players about his future in that meeting.
"I have no idea what's going to happen," said Dalton. "I'm waiting around like everybody else. I'll be sitting around my phone either waiting for a call or waiting for social media, whichever comes first. I feel like that's how it always happens. We'll see."
Said Iloka: "He didn't say nothing. He really didn't tell us. We'll probably find out when you all find out. I have my intuitions through certain cues and certain words, but I can't really speak on speculations."
Lewis had lobbied for a contract extension last January but never received one, which meant the end of 2017 season was a chance for the team to make a clean break from him and not be on the hook financially after it was over if things didn't go successfully.
The Bengals finished with a 7-9 record after Sunday's 31-27 win at Baltimore, which marked the second straight losing season after the Bengals went 6-9-1 in 2016.
Lewis said there is a mutual interest from the organization and himself for him continue as coach.
"I guess that would be fair (to say)," said Lewis. "Every decision I have ever made here is mutual with both of us. Since January of ’03 (when Lewis was hired) it’s always been mutual. It has to be that way. We haven't talked about a deal or anything that way. We're just talking about the football team. We discussed the football team this morning."
When asked specifically if there was a path for him to be the head coach again in 2018, Lewis said, "Uh, I think so, but again, again, again, probably less said the better."
Lewis made it sound as if the decision to return was his to make and that he is trying to wrestle more control in personnel decisions from the front office.
"The one thing that we've been consistent on since I began here is being on the same page," said Lewis. "There's a direction the owner wants to have and there's a direction he's hired me to do a job, and we've got to make sure we stay aligned in that, and if his direction is different than my direction then that's probably not good. We just have to make sure we're all on the same page."
He shot down any notion that he may move to a front offiice role rather than continue as coach.
"No, I don’t know where these thoughts come from that people make up," said Lewis.
Lewis has compiled a 125-112-3 career regular-season record in 15 seasons and guided the Bengals to the playoffs seven times. While he didn't win a playoff game, the Bengals only reached the playoffs seven times in their first 35 years prior to him being hired.
His seven postseason losses are the most of any coach who has never won a playoff game, and his 15 years as an NFL head coach tie him with Jim Mora for most seasons coached without a playoff win, although Mora was 0-6.
When the Bengals hired Lewis in 2003 he had no head coaching experience but had been a successful defensive coordinator, serving in that position for the Baltimore Ravens when they won the Super Bowl in 2000.
At the time the Bengals hired Lewis they were coming off a stretch of 12 straight seasons of non-winning records and had finished under .500 11 times. In that 12-year span, they compiled a record of 55-137.
Lewis immediately turned the Bengals around in his first season leading them to an 8-8 record.
After the Bengals went 8-8 the next season in 2004, the 2005 team went 11-5 and earned the franchise's first playoff berth since 1990.
The next three seasons weren't very good as the Bengals compiled just a 19-28-1 record and didn't post a winning record, but they bounced back in 2009 to finish 9-7 and earn another playoff berth.
The bottom appeared to drop out on Lewis in 2010 when the Bengals slumped to a 4-12 record, but he was retained for the 2011 season in what has been termed as the "re-boot" for the organization. The Bengals then ripped off five straight seasons in which they went to the playoffs and compiled a 52-27-1 record in that span.
The Bengals won 10 or more games six times in Lewis' tenure after winning 10 or more only six times in the first 35 years as a franchise before his arrival.
The Bengals also had eight seasons under Lewis of .500 or worse records.
Lewis was asked what message he would give to the fan base about the team's current state of affairs.
"Well I think if you're a real fan then you stay the course and understand we're not happy with what transpired this season and we're going to do everything, if I'm here, I'm going to do everything in my power to get us to be world champions, that's what my job is and nothing short of that is acceptable and that's the way it is in my mind, that's why I do what I do," said Lewis. "That's the hard part, only one gets to do that, and unfortunately this year that's not going to be us. So we've got to go back to work when that time comes and build a better football team, one that will win games. We didn't close games, we had a myriad of things this season that we didn't overcome, so we've got to do a better job."