Decision to return as Bengals coach appears to be up to Lewis, and why you may want return

Richard Skinner says Marvin Lewis is again in a power struggle with the front office and why fans may need to root for him to win it and return. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - As shocking as it may seem there is little doubt after Monday's Marvin Lewis press conference that the decision to return as Bengals head coach in 2017 (and perhaps beyond) will be up to him, and believe it or not based on what he's fighting for you may actually want him back.

Look, before you have the knee-jerk reaction that he doesn't deserve to return and that you are done with the Bengals if he does (I've heard that before plenty of times, and don't much believe those who say it) there are some very good reasons why it might be good for the organization if he returns.

I fully understand the trump card of zero playoff wins in 15 seasons you can play to denounce anything I write on this subject or that even change for change sake is needed.

It shouldn't be discounted, however, that Lewis did guide the franchise to seven playoff appearances in his 15 seasons, especially when it should be noted that in the first 35 years as a franchise the Bengals made the playoffs exactly ... seven times.

This is a power struggle, pure and simple, between Lewis and the front office, and the last time he won such a power struggle after the 2011 season the Bengals ripped off five straight playoff appearances.

Little by little Lewis has received concessions from the front office that sent the organization in a winning direction and brought it from the dark ages of the 12 years prior to him being named head coach, when the Bengals went 55-137, into a consistent winner.

The Bengals didn't have a single winning record in that span and had 11 losing seasons.

In Lewis' 15 seasons the Bengals went .500 or better 10 times and posted a winning record seven times.

That didn't happen by accident. It happened because Lewis fought for upgrades in scouting and player personnel, upgrading the facilities and amenities for the players and even in the way the team traveled.

Now, he wants more - more of a final say on player personnel, the draft and even his coaching staff.

There is little doubt he was angry that the team allowed left tackle Andrew Whitworth to leave as a free agent, and he certainly hasn't sounded like he was all that enamored over the selection of wide receiver John Ross in the first round of the 2017 draft.

Perhaps he never wanted Ken Zampese to be his offensive coordinator, but that was thrust upon him. And let's not forget he inherited Paul Alexander as offensive line coach, and the handling of the offensive line the past couple of seasons may be enough for Lewis to want to make a change there.

"We have to build better," said Lewis. "We have to build a team that can win this division. That's important and we're not there. That's the first step and then you have to build a team that can win the AFC. That's what our goals are and I have to do a better job of coaching them."

You can argue that perhaps Lewis would be best-served in a major front office role, but he shot that down on Monday.

He wants to coach, but also wants final say on the players he coaches and the coaches who work for him.

That's really not too much to ask. If he doesn't receive those concessions then it may mean a return to those times from 1991-2002.

That's why if you want the Bengals to continue evolving and get back to winning you may need to root for Lewis to win his power struggle.

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