Much of the news of the day for the Cincinnati Bengals revolved around head coach Marvin Lewis and the comments he made at the annual AFC coaches media breakfast. He spoke on several topics, including the team’s feelings on certain players and their place in the lineup. Lewis was passionate, especially in the defense of guys who have gotten negative attention from fans, going as far as lambasting one particular website for views on linebacker Rey Maualuga. He also showed a tremendous amount of optimism about the future of the team, and may have given some insights on Cincinnati’s plans next season.
Maualuga has been the frequent target of fan angst for sub-par play in the middle of the defense. He has been especially poor in coverage, a problem that the Houston Texans took full advantage of in the playoffs. He also finds himself unable to take good angles in the running game, often overrunning plays and taking himself out of position. A free agent this offseason, fans thought they might get a new MLB, and possibly an improved linebacker unit, for 2013. He was brought back, however, and Lewis strongly intimated that Maualuga would be back in the middle, something that supporters of the team would disagree with. Lewis has an opposing view, saying the LB has improved and that he has no plans to make changes to the defense.
Another troubling, though not as talked about, comment concerned the safety position. The Bengals secondary has been a relatively strong unit overall, but safety is widely considered a weakness due to the lack of productivity from whoever started along with Reggie Nelson. Fans have called for Cincinnati to use a high draft pick to address the situation for a couple of seasons, but it hasn’t happened. This year was supposed to change that, with almost everybody predicting a safety in the first few rounds. Lewis took some air out of that possibility by saying he likes what they already have at the position.
Many fans read the comments and took to social media to complain about the apparent delusions Lewis is under. Anger directed at the Bengals’ head coach was front and center on Twitter, each one more insulting than the previous one. If Lewis believes these things, then they might not be that far off. The most likely scenario, though, is a common phenomenon at this time of year, and that’s that teams are just unwilling to tell the truth about anything. With the draft on the horizon, and free agency in full swing, Lewis might just be putting out a smokescreen to mask their true intentions. Cincinnati, like 31 other teams, places the utmost importance on secrecy and will say anything to keep their plans hidden. Nobody will be sure of what is true until this fall, when the games actually start, with only rumor and speculation until then. If Lewis is being honest, then fans will be able to express their outrage at keeping the status quo. For now, though, they should consider the possibility that Lewis isn’t delusional, that maybe he’s just refusing to tip the team’s hand.