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Power Struggle Brewing?

Lewis’ contract status hints at possible tension at the top.


Marvin Lewis has the team’s beat reporters up in arms over some elusive comments he made to them regarding his current contract status.  Lewis is currently working on the last year of his current deal, a rarity in the NFL.  Lame duck coaches are usually uncomfortable and it’s generally considered bad business in the football coaching game to have a coach in such a status.  It’s often thought to be an indictment of the coach, and a lack of confidence from above. 

Interestingly, however, it hasn’t been the team that’s held up the contract extension process, but Lewis himself.  The coach revealed that the team approached him in October during the season, and again immediately following the year about a new deal and they were rebuffed both times. 

Knowing the team’s reputation, one would think it has to do with either money or Mike Brown’s insistence upon having final say on all decisions. 

Turns out it looks like it’s the later.  Reading between the lines, it sounds like either Brown is trying to take some power back or Lewis is reaching for more. 

“There were things that when I started this job in 2003 that were important to me; we can’t change those,” Lewis said in a combine interview with local reporters. “They have to stay on track and I have to make sure we’re continuing to progress that way and those are the things are as important to me as anything.  I’m talking about structure. I’m talking about decisions on how we do things. How I have the ability to do things to give us an opportunity to win football games.”

Hmmmm……can you say, “Power struggle?” 

Either way, I’m inclined to back Lewis on this one.  Though some will argue his 56-57-1 isn’t exactly Lombardi-esque, the fact that he’s won two division titles in 7 years against teams like Baltimore and Pittsburgh is nonetheless impressive.  Add to that he’s done it with Mike Brown having final say on the roster,  a penny-pinching front office, and virtually no scouting department, and his accomplishments are nothing short of a miracle. 

Lewis has done what David Shula, Bruce Coslet, and Dick Lebeau could not come close to doing: change a franchise with an antiquated culture and a losing history and make them respectable.  They’ve had two playoff appearances and two seasons missing the playoffs by one game in 7 seasons.  Under those former staffs, 8-8 was a reason to celebrate.  Now fans treat a .500 campaign as if it was one of Shula’s 4-12 debacles. 

And make no mistake; those debacles started and ended squarely at Mike Brown’s desk. Brown’s absolute power with former regimes has been an abject failure.  The last thing Brown should do is think he’s the reason for the team’s recent improvements. 

Lewis has earned the right to do it his way.  The team made huge strides last year as the coach insisted upon the team being built in his vision, rather than Brown’s.  The old man needs to give Lewis the power to take it to the next level, and give him the contract security ever coach desires. 

Like him or not, he’s earned it.

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