Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis summoned an odd reference Monday during his press conference when asked if he felt any growing pressure with his 0-4 record in the playoffs.
“Susan Lucci,” Lewis responded with a laugh, referring to the “All My Children” soap opera star who was nominated for an Emmy 18 times before finally winning one on her 19th try.
“I just can’t wait to get off your next list that you put before me,” Lewis joked with the reporter who asked the question. “I’m going to look forward to next season so I can get off that list for you. You just keep building the lists and we’ll keep knocking them down. I thought we had this one knocked down, and I was looking forward to knocking down that one for you. You guys always seem to find the negative of things, and I’ll keep trying to look for the positives.”
In 10 seasons as Bengals head coach, Lewis has compiled a regular season record of 79-80-1 to go with the 0-4 postseason mark. The 164 games without a playoff win rank as third most in NFL history behind Jim Mora (237) and Norm Van Brocklin (173).
Barring a midseason firing or resignation, Lewis will pass Van Brocklin after the Bengals’ 10th game next year.
Lewis’ four postseason appearances without a victory rank second to Mora’s six (0-4 with Indianapolis, 0-2 with New Orleans).
Published reports have Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden interviewing for the head coach openings in Philadelphia and Arizona this week, but defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said he has not heard from any teams.
When asked if he expects to be back in Cincinnati next year, Zimmer said, “Yes. I’ve got some more time on my contract.”
That, of course, would be immaterial if a team were to express interest in Zimmer, who is signed through 2014. Cornerback Terence Newman, who played for Zimmer in Dallas before joining the Bengals this year, said he’s surprised there haven’t been more calls.
“It’s kind of an enigma how he’s not a head coach already,” Newman said. “His track record speaks volumes. If there’s any coach right now that’s deserving, I think it would be him. He’s won Super Bowls. He’s led great defenses. He’s led great teams.
“If he goes somewhere, I’m going to be knocking on his door or calling him saying, ‘Hey, bring me with you,’ ” added Newman, who will be an unrestricted free agent. “I just have that much respect for him.”
The Bengals had the sixth-ranked defense in the NFL this season, the third time in Zimmer’s five years that Cincinnati finished in the top 10.
The Cincinnati chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America named defensive tackle Geno Atkins as team MVP and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth as the recipient of the “Good Guy” award.
A third-year player, Atkins led the Bengals with 12.5 sacks and has been voted a Pro Bowl starter, marking the second year in a row he’s made it to Honolulu.
Whitworth was presented the “Good Guy” award for being accessible any time an interview was requested, especially after losses when he regularly gave thoughtful, insightful answers to sometimes difficult questions.
“It’s a great thing,” Whitworth said of the award. “You have an expectation as a leader on a football team. I want to be an example in everything I do, not just on the football field. And that’s one of the proudest things I am of this organization and this team in the seven years I’ve been here, is the way this locker room has changed. And it changed because of guys like Domata (Peko) and myself and Robert Geathers, who have been here that whole time and continue to be people on and off the football field who are consistent.
“We strive to be good not only at football, but good as people. To me it’s an awesome accomplishment because it signifies what’s changed this whole organization.”