Marvin Lewis in 2015 extends his Bengals-record head coaching tenure to 13 seasons. He has led his team to the postseason in five of the last six years, including four straight. The Bengals are one of only four NFL teams to reach the playoffs every year from 2011-14, and they are one of only five teams to have qualified in at least five of the last six seasons.
In total, Lewis has coached six Bengals playoff teams, also a franchise record. Paul Brown is second in the category, with three. On April 22, 2015, the Bengals and Lewis reached agreement on a one-year contract extension, running through 2016.
“We have worked together with Marvin for many years, things are going well for the team, and Marvin deserves credit for that,” said Bengals president Mike Brown. “The extension reflects our confidence in him and how things look to us as we move forward. We are happy to have reached this agreement.”
“I appreciate the commitment by management to the direction of our team,” Lewis said. “It’s gratifying to our coaching staff and to me personally. The stakes get higher each and every year, and I’m excited to continue our pursuit of greatness and to be World Champions.”
Lewis opens the 2015 season with 100 career victories, the most in Bengals history by a margin of 36 over Sam Wyche (64). Lewis’ record is 100-90-2 in the regular season and 100-96-2 including postseason. The Bengals’ 31 victories over the last three regular seasons rank tied for fifth in the NFL for that span.
The Bengals head coaches with the second-most years in the position have been Paul Brown (1968-75) and Wyche (1984-91), each with eight seasons.
The 2015 Bengals posted a 10-5-1 record, good for a Wild Card playoff spot. But they lost 26-10 at Indianapolis in the first round of the playoffs.
“We’re proud of being consistently in the postseason, but we are on a quest to be better at everything we do, because last year was not good enough,” Lewis says. “We’ve got to have a sense of new direction. We’ve signaled that with a major revamping of our team space (at Paul Brown Stadium). There’s a message in that for all of us. We continue to tweak things to try to be better. We’ve got to get better in every area, and it starts at the top. It’s my responsibility.”
Lewis ranks second in the NFL in longest current tenure with one team, trailing only Bill Belichick, who is in his 16th straight season with New England. In the category of most seasons as head coach with one or more teams, Lewis in 2015 ranks sixth among active coaches, behind Belichick (21st season in ’15), Jeff Fisher (21), Tom Coughlin (20), Andy Reid (17) and John Fox (14).
Lewis got a rare coaching-tree compliment after the 2013 season when his offensive and defensive coordinators, Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer, both moved on to head coaching jobs. Gruden was hired by Washington and Zimmer by Minnesota. The Bengals quickly filled the vacancies from within Lewis’ deep staff, promoting former Raiders head coach Hue Jackson to offensive coordinator and Zimmer protégé Paul Guenther to the defensive coordinator position. Jackson and Guenther are in their second years as Bengals coordinators in 2015.
Lewis was the consensus choice as NFL Coach of the Year in 2009, when the Bengals won the AFC North Division while sweeping all six division games. The Bengals were AFC North champions under Lewis also in 2005 and ’13.
Named the ninth head coach in Bengals history on Jan. 14, 2003, Lewis started quickly. His ’03 club finished 8-8, six games better than the ’02 club, good for the biggest improvement in the NFL.
Lewis came to the Bengals with credentials as a record-setting NFL defensive coordinator, having played a huge role in a championship season. His six seasons (1996-2001) as Baltimore Ravens coordinator included a Super Bowl victory in 2000, when his defense set the NFL record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game campaign (165). That team clipped 22 points off the previous mark. The 2000 Ravens are always an entry in discussions regarding the best NFL defensive units of all time.
In 2002, the season before he joined the Bengals, Lewis led the Washington Redskins to a No. 5 NFL defensive ranking, serving as assistant head coach as well as defensive coordinator.
He had his first NFL assignment from 1992-95, as linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He aided the development of four Pro Bowl players — Kevin Greene, Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland and Greg Lloyd.
Lewis began his coaching career as linebackers coach at his alma mater Idaho State from 1981-84. ISU’s team (also nicknamed the Bengals) finished 12-1 in Lewis’ first season there and won the NCAA Division 1-AA championship.
Lewis played LB at Idaho State, earning All-Big Sky Conference honors for three consecutive years (1978-80). He also saw action at quarterback and free safety during his college career. He received his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Idaho State in 1981, and earned his master’s in athletic administration in ’82. He was inducted into Idaho State’s Hall of Fame in 2001.
Born Sept. 23, 1958, Lewis attended Fort Cherry High School in McDonald, Pa. (near Pittsburgh), where he was an all-conference quarterback and safety. He also earned high school letters in wrestling and baseball. He and his wife, Peggy, have a daughter, Whitney, and a son, Marcus. Marcus Lewis joined the Bengals’ coaching staff for 2014 and remains on the staff for ’15.
Playing and coaching history: 1978-80—Played linebacker, quarterback and safety, Idaho State. 1981-84—Assistant coach (AC), Idaho State. 1985-86—AC, Long Beach State. 1987-89—AC, New Mexico. 1990-91—AC, University of Pittsburgh. 1992-95—AC, Pittsburgh Steelers. 1996-2001—Defensive coordinator, Baltimore Ravens. 2002—Assistant head coach/ defensive coordinator, Washington Redskins. 2003-present—Head coach, Cincinnati Bengals.