/Source: Bengals fire Lewis after 16 seasons

Source: Bengals fire Lewis after 16 seasons

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals have parted ways with longtime coach Marvin Lewis, a source told ESPN’s Dianna Russini.

Lewis had one season remaining on a contract extension he signed last year.

Lewis, 60, coached the Bengals for 16 seasons and will leave with a 131-122-3 record. Although he leaves with the most wins in franchise history, his 0-7 record in the playoffs and 8-26 record against the Pittsburgh Steelers looms large over his tenure.

Speculation about Lewis’ future has clouded the last few years, particularly as the team struggled to return to the success they had from 2011-15, when they made five straight playoff appearances. The Bengals re-signed Lewis last season despite mounting dissatisfaction from a fanbase that has not seen a playoff win since the 1990 season.

Bengals owner Mike Brown told the Cincinnati Enquirer last year that he brought Lewis back because he provided continuity. Brown said he figured the disgruntled fans would return if the team began winning again.

“The area where we have some making up to do is with our public,” Brown said last January. “They are unsettled because they wanted to see more. And then it didn’t come through for them in the fashion they had expected or hoped; they began to make commentary and some of that was, well, it’s Marvin. Some of that was, well, it’s Mike. Some of that was whatever it was. I have to look beyond that. I have to just do what I think puts our team in the best position to win. Even if it is a short-term issue with our fans, I will tell you that it’s all going to play out on the field here. And if we win, it will be great. If we don’t, you’ll be right back here asking why.”

However, a large portion of the fanbase did not return following the decision to re-sign Lewis, and attendance at Paul Brown Stadium dropped to its lowest levels since the 2011 season, despite a 4-1 start that sparked hope the Bengals could return to the playoffs this year.

The attendance numbers at home games continued to drop as the season went from promising to disastrous.

The defense struggled badly enough to warrant the firing of defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and injuries decimated the starting lineup.

By the end of the season, 18 players were on injured reserve, including quarterback Andy Dalton, star wideout A.J. Green, starting tight end Tyler Eifert, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and linebacker Preston Brown.

Lewis picked up the defensive coordinator reins this season for the first time since 2002 during a one-year stint as Redskins defensive coordinator. Lewis’ defensive prowess was the reason he began attracting interest as a head coach in 2000. As a defensive coordinator of the Ravens, he led one of the best defenses of all time to a win in Super Bowl XXXV that season.

Although the defense showed improvement after Lewis took over this year, the team did not take a big enough step forward to warrant keeping him for another season. The defense will almost certainly finish last in the league in yards allowed and points allowed.

Lewis was the second-most tenured coach in the league behind New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, who was hired in 2006, will now move into that spot.

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