Bengals’ decision to stick with Lewis paying early dividends

The late Bum Phillips once said, “There’s two kind of coaches — them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired.’’

Phillips was right. He was fired after the 1980 season by the late Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams after losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion in the playoffs three years in a row.

The Oilers went 1-8, 2-14, 3-13 and 5-11 from 1982 to 1985, and went through five head coaches before Jeff Fisher was hired in1990.

That shows the danger of firing a winning coach even if he doesn’t win the Super Bowl. The next guy may not be better and could very well be worse.

Philadelphia is another good example. Andy Reid was fired after going 130-93-1 in 14 years with the Eagles while making one Super Bowl. He went 4-12 in his final year with the Eagles in 2012.

The Eagles then went through the Chip Kelly debacle before righting the ship with Doug Pederson.

Meanwhile, Reid was snapped up by the Kansas City Chiefs and is 56-31, including a 2-0 mark this year. He hasn’t made the Super Bowl, but he’s kept the team competitive.

Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis decided to go the opposite direction last year to the surprise of many.

After the Bengals went 6-9-1 and 7-9 the last two years, there was speculation that Lewis would quit after 15 years.

ESPN even reported last Dec. 17 that he had decided to leave. By Dec. 31, they softened it to say he was “leaning” towards leaving.

Instead, after meeting with Brown, Lewis decided to sign on for two more years.

This is the second time Brown and Lewis have decided not to part ways when many thought they would.

The first was after the Bengals went 4-12 in 2010. The Bengals then drafted Andy Dalton and went to the playoffs five years in a row, although they lost their first-round playoff game each year.

Many of the fans weren’t happy about Lewis returning because they are frustrated with Lewis’ 0-7 playoff record. He had 125 wins by the end of last season, and no coach had won 125 games without winning a playoff game. Jim Mora won 125 with the Saints and went out 0-6.

But Brown and Lewis have a rapport, and Brown knows a change might not make things better. And Lewis is comfortable working for Brown.

It helped that the Bengals didn’t quit at 5-9. They beat Detroit and Baltimore and knocked them both out of the playoffs.

Still, Brown is not the easiest owner to work for. He runs a tight ship, and former quarterback Carson Palmer got so frustrated with Brown’s barebones approach that he was ready to quit the game after the 2010 season unless he was traded.

Lewis, though, manages to coexist with Brown.

“Everyone in today’s coverage wants to speculate and be first, and I kept telling people that we would sit down after the season, that I would make a decision,” Lewis said at the owners’ meeting in March. “There were a lot of people involved, including my wife (Peggy). I not only had to make sure I wanted to do it, the Bengals and (owner) Mike (Brown) and his family wanted to make sure I wanted to do it. They wanted to know what was my vision to get us on top. And if they were in agreement with that. I knew if I walked away I was leaving a lot of people who count on me. A lot of players, staff and others. I think we’ve done a few things to get back to a championship level. Winning is why we do this.”

It’ll be a surprise if they win the championship, but they have a good shot at the AFC North title since they’re already beaten Baltimore and Pittsburgh is unraveling. And the Cleveland Browns are the Cleveland Browns.

Brown and Lewis seem to have a marriage of convenience, but it is working. So far. But their 2-0 start has gotten little buzz and they are underdogs against Carolina this weekend, so we’ll see where they go from here.

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