As speculation lingers about the future of Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis with his contract set to expire at season's end, this much is certain: Neither Lewis nor the club is presently willing to discuss the matter in great detail.
"I have a job here and I don't know why everybody speculates," Lewis said recently. (Bengals owner and president) Mike (Brown) and I will come to an arrangement, and when we come to that arrangement, everyone will know about it, regarding the future of the football team here.
"It has not been something I have focused much at all on during the season, and it is not a thing I am comfortable with talking about, my own situations."
PFW's interview request for Lewis, Brown or any club executive who could shed light on the status of Lewis' future with the club was declined in the week leading up to the Browns game.
Lewis, 52, is in his eighth season as Bengals head coach, tying him with club founder Paul Brown and Sam Wyche for longest tenures on the job in Cincinnati. He has twice led the Bengals to the AFC North title.
This Bengals team was regarded as a contender to repeat as division champions leading into this season. If anything, there was some sentiment that the Bengals could have been better than they were a year ago. The defense, one of the AFC's best in 2009, returned all of its key players, and the offense looked to be better after the additions of WR Terrell Owens in free agency and well-regarded rookie TE Jermaine Gresham and WR Jordan Shipley.
But after winning 2-of-3 games to begin the season, the Bengals haven't won since. Naturally, frustration has been on the rise. Owens, speaking on the "T.Ocho Show" on Dec. 14, placed blame on the entire organization, including Brown, the coaches and players, for the team's poor record, remarking that the team was "underachieving ... from the top down," according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
The way we hear it, Lewis' lack of a contract beyond this season hasn't been a distraction for the team, but it has been more of a source of speculation than it had ever been before. We're told it is difficult to get a read on what either Lewis or Brown will do.
As for the Bengals' play on the field, there's some sentiment that injuries have contributed mightily to Cincinnati's dire straits. Fifteen players, including seven defensive backs, are currently on injured reserve. But there is also a sense that the Bengals have very much underachieved, we're told.
All that's left now is for Cincinnati to play out the regular season — and for Lewis' situation to finally be resolved.