Photo of quarterback Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals completing a pass versus the Washington Redskins.

Image Credit: KA Sports Photos (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Only three teams in the National Football League have made the NFL playoffs the past four consecutive seasons; the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals. Two of those three teams won Super Bowls in that time span. In fact, the Cincinnati Bengals haven't won a playoff game in 25 years and are in 0-6 in the playoffs since Marvin Lewis took the reigns. Both Lewis and Andy Dalton are taking the most flack for the Bengals lack of success come January while Bengals owner Mike Brown lurks behind the scenes.

If you were a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals during the 1990's and early 2000's, you remember the state of the franchise during that time period. The dysfunctional relationship between Mike Brown and Corey Dillon or Carl Pickens. Bengals fans wearing bags over their heads at home games. Prime time television avoiding the city of Cincinnati like the plague. The quarterbacking of Bengals games by players like Gus Frerotte, Neil O'Donnell and Akili Smith. Have Bengals fans forgotten what it was like as a fan during those days?

In the history of the organization, the Bengals have NEVER made the playoffs four seasons in a row and never six times under one coach. In fact, the Cincinnati Bengals had only made the NFL playoffs seven times in the organization's history when Marvin Lewis took over in 2003. Yet in 12 seasons, Marvin Lewis has yet to win a playoff game and I can understand the city's frustrations. Only the great Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots has a longer tenure than Lewis in the NFL. The difference? Bill Belichick has six Super Bowl appearances and four Super Bowl victories. But when you consider the fact that the Patriots played in Super Bowl XXXI (1997) just before Belichick took over in 2000, there wasn't as huge of a gap of desperation and mediocrity. In other words, what Marvin has done for the Bengals is a vast improvement given the organization's history of losing. Many would say Lewis has shown consistency as a head coach in Cincinnati.

Moving on to Andy Dalton, I understand the frustrations there as well. But let's also remember that Dalton is still a young quarterback. Tom Brady had the pleasure of apprenticing Drew Bledsoe when he entered the NFL. Aaron Rodgers had the pleasure of apprenticing Brett Favre when he entered the NFL. Andy Dalton was on his own from the jump as was Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. And if you take a look at their statistics during their first three seasons in the NFL, they're very similar. That's definitely something Cincinnati Bengals fans should keep in mind and something that Dalton could build on moving forward.

I frequently listen to 700 WLW in Cincinnati, the city's number one station for news. Former NFL player Rocky Boiman is now an on air personality for the station and he does an excellent job. After spending time as a player on the sidelines with Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, Boiman has also spent time as a member of the media around Andy Dalton. He insists that Dalton just doesn't have the intensity and "look in his eye" both before, during and after the game; a very interesting observation. Dalton does seem to be a little on the reserved and quiet side when compared to some of the NFL's most elite quarterbacks. Each player has his own personality style, however. I understand Dalton is not a running threat like a RGIII or a Russell Wilson. I realize he's not 6'6 like Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger or Tom Brady. But he hasn't missed the NFL playoffs since arriving in Cincinnati.

Photo of Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis during a practice.

Image Credit: Navin75 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Marvin Lewis was often considered a "defensive guru" when he left the Baltimore Ravens as an assistant coach. Now in Cincinnati, he's considered a "player's coach" which is what I translate as a coach that communicates well but is also more on the laid back side. That is Marvin Lewis to a T. Do his player's fear him the way the New York Giants players fear Tom Coughlin? The way San Francisco 49ers players feared Jim Harbaugh? The way Patriots players fear Bill Belichick? Not sure. Some would say he had lost the Bengals locker room in past seasons, especially the infamous 2010 season when Terrell Owens joined the team. Lewis definitely gets a pass this season with injuries to AJ Green, Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert and Vontaze Burfict during the NFL wildcard round vs. the Indianapolis Colts. But as many NFL analysts will probably tell you, Lewis' margin of error moving forward is slim.

Is Dalton the quarterback of the future for the Cincinnati Bengals? That remains to be seen. Who Dey Nation will see the Bengals miss the NFL playoffs with Dalton at the helm before they'll see a quarterback change in Cincinnati.



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