Lewis went over the line with comment about rookie Ross
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis doesn't have to like the fact the team selected speedy wide receiver John Ross in the first round of the NFL Draft. He doesn't have to like that Ross has gotten hurt a couple of times to slow his learning curve. He doesn't have to like the fact that Ross isn't quite ready to play much for a myriad of reasons. He doesn't have to like the fact he's in the final year of his contract and is heading for a second straight losing season, which will likely mark his final season as Bengals head coach.
Nope, he doesn't have to like any of that. But that doesn't mean it was right for him to say what he did about Ross during his press conference on Wednesday.
Ross was targeted once in this past Sunday's 24-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans and was supposed to run a go route up the right sideline against man-to-man coverage. The only problem was Ross got a little contact from the cornerback covering him and stopped running just as quarterback Andy Dalton threw the ball down the field where he expected Ross to be. The pass fell harmlessly to the ground incomplete.
"(Ross) let his teammates down, he let me down and he let Andy down, because, maybe that ball isn’t supposed to go there in that coverage, but if you do it right and run like he can run, that ball can go there and be a big play for us," said Lewis.
Wait a minute. So in a game in which linebacker Vontaze Burfict got ejected it was Ross who let his teammates and Lewis down?
Look, I am in the camp that trusts the coaches to make the decisions regarding playing time the way they see fit, because they have certain expectations from practice that none of us see.
If Lewis doesn't believe Ross is ready to play more than the handful of snaps he has played this season that's fine.
For those that say, "Well it doesn't take much to learn to run deep," you saw first-hand on the one target to Ross that it really isn't all that easy.
If it was, world-class sprinters like Renaldo Nehemiah (who had 43 receptions in his brief career with San Francisco from 1982-84) and Tommie Smith (one career reception for the Bengals in 1969) would have done far more than they did, as would other ultra-fast wide receivers who enter the NFL on a regular basis these days and quickly flame out.
Of the limited amount of practice the media is allowed to watch each week, back-to-back plays by Ross in practice a couple of weeks ago stand out as reasons he perhaps doesn't play more, but also showed the potential of what he can provide.
During a one-on-one drill against cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, Ross couldn't get out of his break on an out route fast enough for the pass to be completed, because Kirkpatrick jammed him hard at the line of scrimmage and then stayed on his hip throughout the route. Kirkpatrick isn't exactly the most physical corner in the NFL, either.
The next time it was Ross' turn he was being covered by cornerback Darqueze Dennard and when Dennard couldn't jam him, Ross ran right past him and hauled in a long pass for an easy touchdown.
For whatever reason, though, Ross has played only 17 snaps in the four games he has been healthy and was placed on the inactive list for one of those four.
Lewis apparently doesn't feel like he's ready to contribute.
That's fine. You don't have to agree with that decision since Lewis is in the position to make that decision based on far more information for making it than we have.
Yet for Lewis to say Ross let him down and let his teammates down for not finishing a route properly is just wrong and totally unfair.
There have been far more players on this team and in Lewis' tenure as coach who have let him and their teammates down, and I don't recall him saying that about a single one of them.
Truth be told, with no playoff victories in 14 (and most likely) soon-to-be 15 seasons as head coach, Bengals fans have to feel more let down by Lewis than he could ever feel let down by Ross.