Why Hue Jackson And Marvin Lewis Still Have Jobs
One Head Coach has won one game in two years. The other never wins playoff games.
By George Kurtz
We’ve seen a slew of recent coaching changes around the league recently. Yet two franchises sort of surprised us by staying with the same head coaches. We’re looking at the state of Ohio, namely Cincinnati (Marvin Lewis) and Cleveland (Hue Jackson).
Sure, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that both Jackson and Lewis should have been fired. Heck, Lewis even received a new two-year deal. Yes, Jackson has finished with a 1-31 record the in his first two seasons as head coach in Cleveland, but is that all his fault? He can only coach the players that are supplied to him. It wasn’t his decision to pass on drafting franchise quarterbacks like Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. That was the front office. You can’t win in today’s NFL without a top QB. He can only coach the players that are given to him and the Browns have been shorthanded in that department for what seems like a couple of decades.
The record sounds bad and the organization is the butt of just about every joke but without patience, we may never have had such legendary coaches as Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson, and Chuck Noll. In his first two years with the Cowboys, Landry went 4-20. His first winning season with Dallas didn’t come until year seven. In Jimmy Johnson’s first year in Dallas he was 1-15. Noll was 1-13 his first year with Pittsburgh, 6-22 his first two seasons, and didn’t have a winning campaign until his fourth year. In today’s microwave society where we want immediate gratification Landry, Johnson, and Noll may not have been given the time to succeed. Patience paid off with that trio as they each won multiple championships.
Hue Jackson: No one told me to hire an offensive coordinator https://t.co/jdnMI48t4q
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 24, 2018
I’m not saying that Jackson will approach those levels, but shouldn’t he be given the chance to see what he can do with better talent around him. That talent should be coming quickly as the Browns, with the 1st and 4th picks in the 2018 NFL Entry Draft. They should be able to select the top quarterback off their board and quite possibly the top player other than a QB. Cleveland owner Jim Haslam stated that the reason he insisted that new general manager John Dorsey keep Jackson was because he didn’t believe that Jackson had ‘lost his magic”. Well he now has at least one more season to prove Haslam or his doubters correct along with a tweaked staff that includes Todd Haley.
Lewis is in the exact opposite situation. He has been given plenty of time to prove he is the right man for the job in Cincinnati. In 15 seasons as the head coach he has a record of 125-112. He has taken the Bengals to the playoffs in seven of those seasons. The problem is that the Bengals seem to be heading in wrong direction having finished below .500 in each of the last two campaigns. So, why keep Lewis? Well, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. You know what you have with Lewis. You believe he knows how to coach this team with such veterans as Andy Dalton, Giovani Bernard, A.J. Green, Geno Atkins, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Adam Jones. Would a new coach be able to handle such diverse personalities? This group may only have a year or two left to truly be able to compete at a high level so why not let Lewis continue to coach them until they have to do a rebuild in 2020? If they were to hire a new coach now, it’s likely that he would fail over the next two seasons, likely leading them to look for another coach a couple of years down the line.
In some ways Lewis is just a bridge coach. He will connect the franchise to the next generation of Bengals football. If that doesn’t sway you, maybe the Bengals just didn’t feel like the next Sean McDermott, Sean McVay, Mike Zimmer, or Doug Pederson was out there to be hired. It’s not like Lewis was signed long term. He could easily be fired after the 2018 season should the Bengals find that hot assistant to lead them into the future.
You can find me on Twitter, @georgekurtz
While the Browns contemplate their next QB move, Jake Ciely tries to identify the next breakout QB.
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