Marvin Lewis’ long run in Cincinnati isn’t over.
Lewis will remain head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals after signing a two-year contract with the team that runs through the 2019 season, the team announced.
“Marvin Lewis has been an important member of the Cincinnati community and the Bengals family for the past 15 years, and we are happy to have reached this agreement,” Bengals president Mike Brown said in a statement. “Marvin has made significant contributions during his time here. While recently we have fallen short of our expectations, we have full confidence in Marvin to re-establish winning football in 2018.”
After missing the playoffs for a second straight year amid a 7-9 season, Lewis’ 15-season run in Cincy appeared to be in serious jeopardy. Lewis told reporters Monday he and the Bengals held a mutual interest in his return, but emphasized that both sides needed to feel good about continuing their relationship.
What might have helped tipped things in Lewis’ favor was how Cincinnati finished the year. Gutsy victories over the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens that annihilated each team’s playoff hopes did more than transform the Bengals into Buffalo Bills locker room heroes. The victories helped Lewis and Bengals finish on a high note and might have been instrumental in partially blocking the painful memories of a 0-3 start that led to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s dismissal.
“My family and I are very grateful for the opportunity to stay in Cincinnati and continue my career with the Bengals,” Lewis said in a statement. “My job is to win a World Championship. We have a talented roster full of veteran leaders and emerging young stars, and I am committed to making the necessary improvements to put this team in the best position to win.”
Lewis’ tenure in Cincinnati — much like the Bengals‘ 2017 season — has had its high and low moments. Despite never winning a playoff game in Cincinnati, Lewis is the winningest coach Bengals franchise history. He’s compiled a 125-112-3 record and guided the Bengals to the postseason seven times.
He was instrumental in transforming the Bengals into contenders again in the AFC. Prior to his arrival in 2003, the Bengals hadn’t had a winning season in 12 years. After consecutive 8-8 seasons, the Bengals finished 11-5 in 2005 to claim the AFC North title and their first playoff berth since 1990.
Lewis has won four division titles with the Bengals and he took home NFL Coach of the Year honors in 2009. Cincinnati, however, has yet to advance past Wild Card Weekend under Lewis.
Whether Lewis can find a way to get the Bengals over their postseason demons remains to be seen. Andy Dalton has failed to replicate his 2015 form over the past two seasons, and the Bengals finished last in the NFL in offense this season (280.5 yards per game). John Ross, the team’s first-round pick, had an utterly disappointing season, failing to make a catch in his three games. Rookie running back Joe Mixon — the team’s second-round selection — didn’t make much of an impact, either.
If Lewis has anything left to add to the NFL’s second-longest current coaching tenure, he’ll get at least one more year to accomplish it.