Marvin Lewis’ 15th season-opener in Cincinnati was undoubtedly his worst. The Bengals failed to muster a single point on Sunday, losing at home to AFC North rival Baltimore, 20-0. Andy Dalton finished 16-of-31 for 170 yards, four interceptions, and a fumble.
It was ugly.
Is it safe to say that the Bengals should move on from Lewis, who is 0-7 in the playoffs and whose message seems to have gone stale?
“Well, I’m not going to jump off that cliff after Week 1, but that was a disaster of a performance at home against a banged-up team,” NFL Network analyst Steve Wyche said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Now the Ravens’ defense is fantastic, but for Cincinnati come out and play like that – (for) Andy Dalton play like that – just not a good performance.”
The Bengals made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons from 2011-15, losing each time in the Wild Card round. They went 6-9-1 a season ago, finishing 24th in scoring offense (20.3 points per game).
If Week 1 was any indication, the offense could be even uglier in 2017.
“If they continue to lose a couple more games, then things become completely off the rails because who’s the leader of that team now?” Wyche wondered. “Is it Andy Dalton? Is that the guy who you think can stand in front of a room and pull that group of guys together? They don’t have it. They’ve gotten rid of Andrew Whitworth. They’ve gotten rid of Kevin Zeitler. They’ve gotten rid of a couple veteran players over the past few years – Reggie Nelson – who were really glue guys.
“If they don’t have those guys in that locker room, now you’re resting on Vontaze Burfict, who’s suspended,” Wyche continued. “You’re resting on Pacman Jones to really, if they face some adversity, to be the guy to say, ‘Hey, let’s pull it together.’ Those aren’t necessarily the guys you think can pull a team through adverse situations from a leadership standpoint. Then that’s when it’s really going to come down to Marvin Lewis. If he can’t get through to that group of guys during some adversity, then later on in the season we can say that maybe his tenure there has run its course.”
The Bengals will try to get in the win column – or at least score a point – on Thursday night against Houston (0-1), which is coming off a 29-7 home loss to Jacksonville. Kickoff from Paul Brown Stadium is slated for 8:25 p.m. ET.