Marvin Lewis

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Marvin Lewis
Color photograph of African-American man (Marvin Lewis) wearing black sport shirt, standing on football sideline and holding a capped Sharpie marker to his lips.
Lewis in 2013
Cincinnati Bengals
Position: Head coach
Personal information
Born: (1958-09-23) September 23, 1958 (age 60)
McDonald, Pennsylvania
Career information
High school: McDonald (PA) Fort Cherry
College: Idaho State
Career history
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
As head coach
As assistant coach
As a player
Head coaching record
Regular season: 130–115–3 (.530)
Postseason: 0–7 (.000)
Career: 129–122–3 (.514)
Coaching stats at PFR

Marvin Ronald Lewis (born September 23, 1958) is the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League (NFL), a position he has held since January 14, 2003. Previously, he was the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens from 1996 to 2001, whose record-setting defense in 2000 helped them win Super Bowl XXXV 34–7 over the New York Giants.

Taking over after a franchise worst 2–14 record in 2002, Lewis led the Bengals in back to back 8–8 finishes in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, his team captured their first winning season and first AFC North division title in fifteen years. He is the first Bengals coach since team founder Paul Brown in 1970 to be named coach of the year by the Associated Press, an award he won in 2009 following a 10–6 regular season and another division title.[1] Lewis had guided the Bengals to five straight playoff appearances from 2011 to 2015, including an 8–0 start in 2015, both firsts in franchise history. He holds the record for most wins as a Bengals head coach.

Despite his regular season success, Lewis has struggled in the playoffs and has been unable to lead the Bengals to a postseason win. His seven postseason losses are the most of any coach who has never won a playoff game and his 15 years as an NFL head coach are tied with Jim E. Mora for most seasons coached without a playoff win.[2]

Early life[edit]

Marvin Lewis was born in the Pittsburgh suburb of McDonald, Pennsylvania. He started playing football at the age of 9 and played safety and quarterback for his team at Fort Cherry High School.[3] He was on the wrestling team and played baseball in the summers as well.[4]

He initially decided to walk on as a football player at Purdue University, but subsequently got a scholarship to attend Idaho State University.[3] He primarily played linebacker and earned all-Big Sky Conference honors three consecutive years as a linebacker. In 2001, he was inducted into Idaho State University's Sports Hall of Fame.[5] He was named Idaho State Alumni of the Year for 2012.[4] Lewis received both his bachelor's degree in physical education and a master's degree in athletic administration from Idaho State.[3]

Coaching career[edit]


Lewis began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Idaho State before becoming the team's linebackers coach for four seasons (1981–1984).[6] Idaho State won the NCAA Division I-AA Championship during his first year with the team.

Lewis was an assistant coach at Long Beach State University (1985–1986), the University of New Mexico (1987–1989), and the University of Pittsburgh (1990–1992).[7]

National Football League[edit]

Assistant coach[edit]

Lewis had coaching internships with the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers before being hired as the linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1992. He was a member of the Steelers' staff when the team lost Super Bowl XXX to the Dallas Cowboys.

The newly relocated Baltimore Ravens (formerly the Cleveland Browns), hired Lewis as their defensive coordinator in 1996, a position that he held for six seasons (1996–2001). In 2000, the Ravens defeated the New York Giants 34–7 in Super Bowl XXXV thanks largely to a defense that allowed the fewest rushing yards (970) and the fewest points (165) in a 16-game regular season. "If ever a man proved his worth as a future head coach, Marvin Lewis did it with this complete domination of the Giants in their 16 possessions: Punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, interception, punt, interception, interception, punt, interception, punt, punt, punt, end of game", wrote Sports Illustrated writer Michael Silver after the game.[8]

Lewis was a prime candidate for several NFL head coaching jobs but was passed over each time. Most notably, he nearly became head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002. General manager Rich McKay was ready to formally offer the job to Lewis, and the Ravens actually held a going-away party for him. However, the team's owners, the Glazer family, were unwilling to give the job to another defense-minded coach after firing Tony Dungy.[9] Shortly afterward, Lewis was hired by the Washington Redskins as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach under Steve Spurrier.

Head coach[edit]


Lewis became the ninth coach in Cincinnati Bengals history on January 14, 2003, when he was hired to replace Dick LeBeau, who was fired after the worst season in franchise history in terms of win percentage, edging out Tom Coughlin and Mike Mularkey.[10] Lewis also had interviews with the Buffalo Bills, the Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Cleveland Browns. Lewis also declined head coaching positions in the college ranks with the University of California, Berkeley and Michigan State University to continue pursuing his goal of becoming a head coach in the NFL.[11]

A contending team in the mid-late 1970s through the 1980s, the Bengals had fallen on hard times in the 1990s and had had several head coaches. After consecutive 8-8 seasons, Lewis shaped the Bengals into contenders with a nucleus of young players such as quarterback Carson Palmer, running back Rudi Johnson, and receivers Chad Johnson and T. J. Houshmandzadeh, defensive backs Tory James and Deltha O'Neal. In 2005, the Bengals recorded an 11-5 record and made the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, as well as their first winning season and AFC North title since that time. However, the Bengals lost in the first round to the eventual Super Bowl XL champion Pittsburgh Steelers which saw Palmer suffer a knee injury that forced him to leave after his very first pass of the game.[12]


The Bengals dropped to 8-8 in 2006, a disappointing season in which they started out 8-5 and then lost their last three games of the season, any one of which could have gotten them into the playoffs with a win. Then they recorded two consecutive losing seasons, including a 4-11-1 record in 2008, the worst of Lewis' career. But in 2009, Cincinnati recorded their second winning season under Lewis' tenure. This included wins in all six games against their AFC North opponents, marking the first time in franchise history they accomplished this feat.[13] The Bengals finished the season 10-6, winning the AFC North title and earning only their second trip to the playoffs in 19 years. On January 9, 2010, The Bengals were defeated by the New York Jets 24-14 in the opening round of the playoffs. On January 16, 2010, Lewis was named the Associated Press 2009 NFL coach of the year, after the Bengals improved from a 4-11-1 record in 2008 to a 10-6 regular season record in 2009.

The Bengals slipped to a 4-12 record in 2010, the worst since Lewis took over as head coach.


On January 4, 2011, Lewis signed an extension with the Bengals.[14] The off-season leading up to 2011 was a difficult time for the Bengals. The team lost three of their most productive players from the 2010, receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco along with defensive back Johnathan Joseph, while quarterback Carson Palmer, the team's starter since 2004, refused to play for the Bengals moving forward, leading to him being traded midway through the season.

However, with the aid of strong play from their first and second-round draft picks, receiver A. J. Green and quarterback Andy Dalton, the Bengals still managed to record their third winning season under Lewis. Midway through 2011, Lewis won his 65th game with the Bengals, surpassing Sam Wyche as the winningest coach in Bengals history. By the halfway mark, the Bengals' record was 6-2, including a five-game winning streak. It was the first time the Bengals had won five consecutive games since 1988, when the team advanced to the Super Bowl with Wyche as their coach. They finished the season 9-7 and made the playoffs as the #6 seed, where the Bengals lost to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round.

On July 31, 2012, the Bengals gave Lewis a 2-year contract extension through 2014. Cincinnati started out 2012 with a 44-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the most lopsided opening day defeat in franchise history. But the team recovered and went on to win their next three games. After defeating the Steelers in week 16, the Bengals again clinched the #6 seed in the AFC and eliminated the Steelers from playoff contention. This marked the first time the Bengals made the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1982, ending the longest active streak of failure to make consecutive playoff appearances among all 32 NFL teams. Cincinnati finished the season with a 10-6 record, including a franchise record 51 quarterback sacks.[1]. However, the season again concluded with a loss in the Wild Card round handed to them by the Texans.

The 2013 season was one of the most successful in Marvin Lewis's career as head coach of the Bengals. Cincinnati finished with an 11-5 record and won their 3rd division title since 2002. They would eventually be handed an upset loss in the first round of the playoffs by the 9-7 San Diego Chargers, a team they had beaten earlier in the season 20-13. It was the third consecutive season that would end in a Wild Card round playoff loss for Cincinnati.

Since 2014, Lewis has acquired considerable authority over football operations. Owner Mike Brown is still reckoned as the team's de facto general manager and retains the final say on football matters, but has ceded most authority over day-to-day personnel matters to Lewis.[15]

In 2014, Lewis became the 37th coach in NFL history ever to record 100 regular season wins. The Bengals would continue their playoff streak in the 2014 season, posting a 10-5-1 record. They held the 5th seed in the AFC playoffs and drew the 11-5 Indianapolis Colts as their first-round opponent. In week 7, the Bengals had been shut out 27-0 in Indy. They would lose again 26-13, despite having 13-10 lead at halftime. With the Bengals' defeat, Lewis tied Jim E. Mora for the most postseason losses as a head coach without a win. There was some speculation that Lewis's head coaching job was on thin ice after a fourth consecutive first-round playoff exit, but nothing came of those rumors. On April 22, 2015 Lewis signed an extension with the Bengals through 2016.[16][17]

Cincinnati started out the 2015 season with an 8-0 record, the best start in franchise history. The team finished the year 12-4, marking only the third time the Bengals had ever recorded 12 wins. However, the team was once again eliminated in a first-round, Wild Card game for a fifth straight year, this time against divisional rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Up 16-15 near the end of the fourth quarter, Lewis faced criticism for not keeping his players under control after penalties drawn by Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones moved the Steelers into field goal range and allowed them to make a game-winning kick with eighteen seconds remaining.[18] The defeat made Lewis the first NFL coach to lose seven postseason games without any wins and the Bengals the first NFL team to lose five straight playoff games in the opening round.


The 2016 and 2017 seasons marked a noted decline for the Bengals, who finished 6-9-1 in the former and 7-9 in the latter to fail to qualify the postseason for two consecutive seasons. The seasons marked Lewis' first losing records with the team since 2010 and first consecutive losing years since 2008, as well as the first losing seasons and missed playoff appearances after the acquisition of Andy Dalton.

The losing seasons, combined with Lewis' winless playoff record and previous five consecutive first-round eliminations led to speculation towards his future in Cincinnati and the potential end of his coaching tenure. This speculation was fueled by a report during the 2017 season that Lewis told the Bengals front office that he will leave the team when his contract expires at the end of the season to pursue other opportunities.[19] Following the conclusion of the 2017 regular season, the report was disproved when Lewis signed a two-year contract extension.[20] The extension was met with harsh criticism from the media and Bengals fans, due to his 0–7 playoff record and only winning 13 out of 32 games in the previous two seasons.[21]

Head coaching record[edit]

Team Regular season Postseason
Year Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
CIN 2003 8 8 0 .500 2nd in AFC North - - -
CIN 2004 8 8 0 .500 3rd in AFC North - - - -
CIN 2005 11 5 0 .688 1st in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Wild Card Game.
CIN 2006 8 8 0 .500 2nd in AFC North - - - -
CIN 2007 7 9 0 .438 3rd in AFC North - - - -
CIN 2008 4 11 1 .281 3rd in AFC North - - - -
CIN 2009 10 6 0 .625 1st in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to New York Jets in AFC Wild Card Game.
CIN 2010 4 12 0 .250 4th in AFC North - - - -
CIN 2011 9 7 0 .563 3rd in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Houston Texans in AFC Wild Card Game.
CIN 2012 10 6 0 .625 2nd in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Houston Texans in AFC Wild Card Game.
CIN 2013 11 5 0 .688 1st in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to San Diego Chargers in AFC Wild Card Game.
CIN 2014 10 5 1 .656 2nd in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Indianapolis Colts in AFC Wild Card Game.
CIN 2015 12 4 0 .750 1st in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Wild Card Game.
CIN 2016 6 9 1 .406 3rd in AFC North - - - -
CIN 2017 7 9 0 .438 3rd in AFC North - - - -
CIN 2018 5 3 0 .667 1st in AFC North - - - -
Total[22] 129 115 3 .528 0 7 .000 -

Coaching tree[edit]

NFL head coaches under whom Marvin Lewis has served:

Assistant coaches under Marvin Lewis who have become NFL or NCAA head coaches:

Personal life[edit]

Lewis is married with a daughter and a son.[23] His son Marcus, is the Bengals Defensive Quality Control coach.[24]


  1. ^ The Associated Press (January 16, 2010). "Lewis named Coach of the Year". CNN. Archived from the original on January 19, 2010. Retrieved January 16, 2010.
  2. ^ "Marvin Lewis by the numbers: Good, bad and ugly". Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  3. ^ a b c "Inside Look at Marvin Lewis".
  4. ^ a b, Michael H. O’Donnell. "Bengals for life: NFL coach Marvin Lewis credits ISU for his success".
  5. ^ Sports Hall of Fame | Awards & Recognition | ISU Alumni Association | Idaho State University Archived 2009-04-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Marvin Lewis: 'Once a Bengal, always a (Idaho State University) Bengal'". Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  7. ^ "Marvin Lewis Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks |". Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  8. ^ Sports Illustrated's Super Bowl Archive
  9. ^ Harry, Chris. This is Ridiculous! Orlando Sentinel, 2002-02-09.
  10. ^ "Marvin Lewis will try to resurrect Bengals", URL retrieved 13 February 2007
  11. ^ "Bengals hire Lewis as new head coach", URL retrieved 13 February 2007
  12. ^ "Cincinnati's Palmer Tears ACL in Left Knee". Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  13. ^ "Oh-so-inoffensive Cleveland Browns submit meekly, 16-7, as Cincinnati Bengals complete AFC North sweep". Retrieved 2018-09-15.
  14. ^ "Lewis returns for record-breaking ninth season".
  15. ^ Wesseling, Chris. Mike Brown ceding Bengals control to Marvin Lewis. NFL Network, 2014-07-27.
  16. ^ Orr, Connor (April 22, 2015). "Bengals sign Marvin Lewis to 1-year contract extension". Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  17. ^ Denher Jr, Paul (April 22, 2015). "Bengals extend Marvin Lewis through 2016". Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  18. ^ Costello, Brian (January 10, 2016). "Will Vontaze Burfict's Bengals fit get Marvin Lewis fired?". New York Post. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  19. ^ "Bengals coach Marvin Lewis plans to leave team, explore other opportunities".
  20. ^ "Marvin Lewis stays with Bengals on two-year contract". January 2, 2018. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  21. ^ "Social media reactions to Marvin Lewis' return to Bengals".
  22. ^ "Marvin Lewis Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks -".
  23. ^ "Marvin Lewis coach profile".
  24. ^ "Marcus Lewis coach profile".

External links[edit]