Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis has had it with quarterback Andy Dalton’s haters. The Bengals head coach was upset and somewhat testy in his defense of his quarterback on Tuesday, for the NFL owners meetings, supporting a guy who is 0-3 in the playoffs, a record that includes home loss to the San Diego Chargers in January when he committed three turnovers.
“I’m tired of answering questions about Andy that don’t make sense,” Lewis said. Those questions make a lot of sense to the Bengals fans losing patience with a quarterback who led their team to nine, ten, and eleven win seasons only to throw one touchdown against six interceptions in the postseason.
Lewis refused to blame Dalton, saying he’s done “a really good job.” “He’s done what most people have never done,” Lewis said, speaking of Dalton’s three straight playoff appearances to start his career. “We lost a football game. We didn’t cover people on third down. We didn’t protect Andy.”
There is an amount of pressure on both Dalton and Lewis this season. Lewis has lost both of his coordinators to head coaching jobs, Jay Gruden to Washington and Mike Zimmer to Minnesota. Back to Dalton, he is going into the final year of his rookie deal. A franchise sold on its quarterback would normally rush to get him locked up on an extension, but owner Mike Brown is waiting for Andy’s play this season to make decision on a possible extension.
“We are going to try to get something done, but I don’t know if we are going to be able to or not. At some point we are going to have to do something more than just let everyone else leave waiting to get something done with that situation. We held back this year trying to put ourselves in a position to get him done. If it turns out it can’t be made to work we will do something elsewhere.” Brown said .
Lewis, however, did not hesitate with reporters Tuesday. He dealt with questions, which all asked pretty much the same thing: is Dalton really the guy? “We put a chip on him three years ago,” he said, “saying he’s our guy.” Asked if the players around Dalton can have full confidence, Lewis said, “They can play very confidently because they know the quarterback is going to play his tail off.” This situation is unique: Dalton has been outstanding in the sense that he’s led a struggling franchise to a new level of success.
If you asked Bengals fans three years ago how they would feel about their rookie quarterback taking them to the playoffs three straight years, they would have reacted in happy land. Dalton’s performance in the postseason, though, has been atrocious.
As comfortable as he’s looked in the fall, he’s looked just as uncomfortable in the winter. Lewis always seems to look comfortable, but that may change as well. He’s the longest-tenured coach in the NFL other than New England’s Bill Belichick, and he has zero playoff wins to show for his 11 seasons in Cincinnati. He’s 90-85-1 as a head coach, not the kind of winning percentage that leads to keeping your job.
A playoff win would make a major difference for both Lewis and Dalton, but another year without any success in the postseason might mean, big changes in the off-season next year.
For you all lifetime long Bengals fans, I feel for y’all, next season is going to be a long season.