At the midway point of the Cincinnati Bengals season, we finally found something Marvin Lewis will get fired up about.
A question mischaracterizing a fake punt from three weeks ago*.
Well, it’s a start.
Once he got rolling, the generally low-key Lewis also put his punt team on blast for allowing what was essentially a game-clinching touchdown return in the loss at Jacksonville last week.
“We were down in position and have to make the play,” Lewis said. “We have to get the returner on the ground and punt where we want to punt. It all has to fit together. It comes back to execution and doing it correctly...
“When we need a punt, we need it up in the air and where we want it. We can’t jack the ball down the middle like we did. Then, we put pressure on the coverage group. That’s the thing we have to have. We forced (Jacksonville’s punter) to re-kick to us the other day, and then we get a penalty and move ball back to the 10-yard line — we can’t have that stuff. And again, it was a guy that’s been a stalwart for us on special teams. It’s not a lack of effort or lack of understanding, we just have to do it right all the time and keep doing it.”
When he was done, he came back to the theme he began pushing Monday: To get out of the 3-5 hole the Bengals are in, they have to, you know, do what they’re coached to do.
This might be nothing, but from a coach who is great at keeping the media at arm’s length any real concerns he might have behind the curtains, it felt like something.
There’s something to be said for calm, collected leadership. It has served Lewis well often during his 14-plus years at the helm of the Bengals.
But this is football. A little emotion is necessary sometimes, too.
Who knows how much effect Lewis’ letting his guard down for a minute might have on how the Bengals play this weekend at Tennessee — probably none.
But if it’s a reflection of some more urgency being applied behind the scenes, it will be interesting to see if Cincinnati brings a little more fire to the fight (aside from A.J. Green of course) against the Titans rather than trudge, trance-like, to 3-6.
*The play in question occurred in Pittsburgh on Oct. 22. The Steelers converted a third down when their punt to team checked to a pass to one of the gunners split out wide because the Bengals hadn’t covered him.