Mon, 24 Sep 2018

No decision yet on Bengals coach Lewis

Sports Xchange
02 Jan 2018, 09:03 GMT+10

CINCINNATI -- Marvin Lewis was still the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals as of Monday afternoon. As the coaching carousel across the NFL got underway in earnest following Sunday's regular-season finales, things remained status quo around Paul Brown Stadium.

In an awkward press conference on Monday afternoon, which many assumed would serve as his official farewell after 15 seasons at the helm, Lewis said discussions are ongoing between him and team ownership about his future and the future of the team.

"We'll continue to talk," said Lewis, who wasn't offered a contract extension this past offseason for the first time since 2010. "This isn't a paper route, not that that's bad. He (owner Mike Brown) is going to give his view, and I'm going to give my view. There are things that both of us want to feel good about."

In 2003, Lewis, 59, took over a team in shambles coming off a 2-14 season and vowed, in his words, to bring the NFL back to Cincinnati. Most would say he succeeded.

Lewis is the Bengals' winningest head coach with 125 wins, and his teams have won four AFC North titles. But, his 0-7 record in the playoffs and two straight losing seasons has resulted in a sentiment among Bengals fans that the time has come for a change.

Three weeks ago, there were multiple reports that Lewis was going to step down at the end of this season, something Lewis has continually denied. On Monday, Lewis again denied a report that he would accept a front-office position with the Bengals.

Lewis hinted that how the roster was constructed is a factor in the discussions with Brown. Lewis reportedly wasn't pleased with allowing veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth to leave as a free agent following last season, resulting in turmoil on the offensive line that was an issue all season.

"We have to build better," Lewis said. "We have to build a team that can win this division. Then you have to build a team that can win the AFC. Nothing short of being world champions is acceptable. That's my job."

Lewis acknowledged that delaying a decision on his contract affects Bengals' assistant coaches, who are unable to pursue opportunities with other teams until a decision is made.

"It is hard," Lewis said. "I would get them where things are as quick as I could. It's unfortunate that they're stuck in this limbo. That makes for some urgency on both parties. They are free agents as well."

It seems after 15 seasons, Lewis has been given plenty of leverage in the current discussions as to whether he agrees to come back next season, despite being winless in the playoffs and going 13-18-1 the past two years.

"It's mutual," Lewis said, of the decision to come back. "It's always been that way."

The Bengals knocked the Baltimore Ravens out of the playoffs on Sunday with a 49-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andy Dalton to Tyler Boyd on fourth-and-12. It was the second straight week that Cincinnati knocked a team out of the postseason, having beaten the Detroit Lions the week before.

The Bengals won their final two games after losing three straight in which they were outscored 67-14.

"After we lost to the Steelers, the sky didn't fall," said Lewis. "We lost, but we still had an opportunity to control things. You've got to get back focused and go on and win the next one."

Bengals players remained in the dark on Monday regarding Lewis' status, but to a man were complimentary.

"To be one place for 15 years is a true testament to him," said Dalton. "He's made a big impact on a lot of guys. He has provided stability."

--AJ McCarron does not believe his future is with the Cincinnati Bengals.

McCarron told reporters on Monday that he would love to have an opportunity to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

When McCarron was asked if he could get that chance with the Bengals, he said, "No." Since being selected in the fifth round of the 2014 draft, McCarron filed a grievance in November arguing that he should be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. The Bengals believe he should be a restricted free agent, since a non-football injury cost McCarron his rookie season. The arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 15.

"It's out of my hands," McCarron said. "I'd love to have my chance. As a competitor, you want your chance to showcase what you can do."

McCarron passed for 854 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions while leading the Bengals to the playoffs in 2015 when Andy Dalton was injured. He has appeared in only four games since then.

McCarron nearly was traded to the Cleveland Browns at the trade deadline, but a paperwork snafu prevented the deal. He has come to the realization that he isn't passing Dalton on the depth chart any time soon.

"Any time you come into a place where a guy is established like AD, who has led them to the playoffs however many times, and they're paying him that much, it's not going to happen," McCarron said.

--Dalton's 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd on fourth-and-12 with 44 seconds left lifted the Bengals to a 31-27 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The Bengals' victory knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs, and earned the Buffalo Bills their first postseason appearance since 1999.

As a result, Dalton became the toast of the town in Buffalo. The Bengals quarterback on Monday said his social media is blowing up with appreciative messages from Bills' fans, and even an influx of contributions to his foundation funneling in from Buffalo.

"I think I'm the hottest guy in Buffalo right now," Dalton said. "That's a crazy fan base, and they're pretty excited. We're appreciative of that (charitable contributions). They're helping out a great cause."

NOTES: RB Joe Mixon returned from injury and had 96 rushing yards on 18 carries in Sunday's 31-27 win at the Baltimore Ravens. Mixon finished his rookie season with 626 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 3.5 yards per carry. He accomplished this despite not becoming the starter until Week 9 and missing two games with injury. ... QB Andy Dalton finished the season with an 86.6 passer rating, his lowest since 2014. His 3,320 passing yards were his fewest in two seasons and his 12 interceptions were the most since 2014. Dalton had to deal with a struggling offensive line and inconsistent running game for most of this season, but did manage 25 TD passes, third-most in his career.

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