To say the football business in Cincinnati has been anything, but brutal for Marvin Lewis over the last few years with the Bengals would be an absolute understatement. Lewis has had to deal with the sideshow clown act that is Chad Ochocinco at times and also a boatload of pressure stemming from the potential that the Bengals showed a few years ago. It sounds like the Carson Palmer era has officially ended in Cincinnati when you hear the tone of Lewis’s voice in the following interview and the Bengals seem to be fine with it having a contingency plan in place. Lewis seems enthused to have a new beginning in Cincinnati.
He decided to come back this season and if the lockout were to be lifted he feels confident his squad can turn it around. Some draft experts had TCU quarterback Andy Dalton as the steal of the 2011 NFL draft and it was clear that the Bengals were a big-time favorite to take the former Horned Frog after Jon Gruden gave him a sterling recommendation. You had to figure his brother Jay would follow suit as the Bengals new offensive coordinator. It should be interesting to see who will usher in the new era in Cincinnati under Lewis at the quarterback position following the lockout and the Bengals sound confident in Dalton. Marvin Lewis joined ESPN 101 in St.Louis with Zach and the Coach (Rick Venturi) to discuss the advantage that Andy Dalton has gotten by attending the Bengals player workouts, Andy Dalton being the starter for the Bengals week one, Carson Palmer threatening to retire, working with Chad Ochocinco and surviving a tumultuous tenure with the Bengals.
How much of a help and advantage is it that Andy Dalton is at these private practices held by the players?
“Well that’ll give a good start for our guys. It’ll give Andy a good introduction and a chance to meet his teammates and I think that’s the biggest thing is really developing some camaraderie, some working together, and so fourth and kind of a commitment to the guys that way. I think if anything it helps with that.”
How likely is it that Andy Dalton could be a starter week one?
“Well that’s something we are going to have to see what happens and how it plays out, but there’s no question when we selected Andy Dalton we selected him with that in mind that he’d possibly be our opening day starting quarterback.”
How do you take it when a guy like Carson Palmer threatens you that he was going to retire and basically says he doesn’t want to take another snap for the ball club?
“Well I don’t take it all. That’s his prerogative, so at this point in his career he decided to retire, so that’s the thing you gotta really feel good about and accept that we know that you are going to have people who are totally committed to competing and playing football in the National Football League or else you’re football team is the first to know that, so you don’t make those decisions. Those decisions don’t come overnight. Those are things that sit in your belly for a long time and they really have a tendency to bother you, so it’s good decision that he made to move on with the rest of his life and we understand that and accept that. We’ve put things together to move forward and we’re excited about it. It’s been a great off-season that way and when we get an opportunity to start working with our players we’ll be fired up and ready to go.”
Chad Ochocinco always seems to be in the news. Some people in the media call Chad Ochocinco a distraction. How has it been to work with Chad Ochocinco?
“Chad’s been an excellent player to work with. He works. He competes. He loves to hear his name called and if they have a camera he is going to talk. That’s part of it, but doing the things he need to do and that’s practicing and playing and preparing. He does a good job with that. If you score touchdown you get to talk and that’s what he’s paid to do score touchdowns.”
Your tenure with the Benglas has been tumultuous at times. My question is how have you been able to keep an equilibrium, maintain the course and keep this thing going forward?
“Well I think the thing you got to know is I said at the conclusion of last season in my last 2 or 3 games that if I made a decision to come back here as the head coach it would be a new beginning and I’m getting a chance to do something not a lot of guys do and that’s start from scratch again and it’s really played out that way. It’s played out that way personnel. It’s played out that way with part of our coaching staff and we are in a new beginning. I’m getting to do that with knowing the in’s-and-out’s of this position and where things are and how things are put together. We’re a much better football now then when I took over in. The leadership on this football team. There is a dedication. Everybody knows where the bread is buttered and what we need to do to get on top of the division, so we are excited about that. I think that’s the exciting part. Whenever we get back to resume work here it’s going to be a lot of fun.”