Football

If Bengals ax Lewis,don't expect firing soon

CINCINNATI — Marvin Lewis doesn't plan to leave one of the NFL's safest coaching jobs.

The Cincinnati Bengals coach said Monday the team's worst start in six years hasn't diminished his commitment to getting it turned around. A 31-22 loss at Dallas left Lewis' team at the bottom of the league at 0-5.

It's a major slip from 2005, when Lewis led the Bengals to their only winning record and playoff appearance since 1991, when owner Mike Brown took over for his father.

"Yes, I am very committed to doing the right thing here," Lewis said, when asked if he planned to stay as head coach.

No matter how bad it gets, Lewis' job is one of the safest around. Two years ago, he got a contract extension through 2010, virtually a guarantee that he will be around that long unless he challenges the front office. That's how things work in Cincinnati.

Brown took control of the team after his father, Paul, died before the start of the 1991 season. The Bengals have managed only one winning season over that span. Even when things have been bad, the head coach has felt secure.

It takes more than a bad record to get a Bengals coach fired.

Sam Wyche led the Bengals to their second Super Bowl appearance in the 1988 season, losing to San Francisco. Then the Bengals slipped to 3-13 in 1991, and Wyche began questioning Brown's roster moves.

Their differences came to a head at their annual end-of-the-season meeting, where they parted ways. Brown said that Wyche resigned; Wyche insisted he was fired.

Brown hired Dave Shula and later gave him a two-year contract extension while he was in the process of losing 50 games faster than any coach in NFL history. Bruce Coslet replaced Shula seven games into the 1996 season — the last year on Shula's contract — and stuck around until 2000, when he resigned after an 0-3 start.

Brown let Dick LeBeau complete the final year on his contract in 2002, when the Bengals went a franchise-worst 2-14. Lewis was then hired.

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