You’d have to say Lewis has had a nice three-year start when compared to the three-year starts of the NFL’s top 10 active coaching list heading into this season that is now minus Dick Vermeil and Mike Sherman. Lewis has won more division titles than Parcells, Belichick, Dungy, Holmgren, and Fisher won in their first three seasons. Lewis is trying to match Joe Gibbs, the only coach on the list to win a Super Bowl in his first three seasons. Gibbs, Schottenheimer, and Cowher are the only coaches on the list to reach a conference championship game in their first three seasons:
Marvin Lewis, Bengals, 27-21, 1 AFC North title
1. Marty Schottenheimer, Browns (not counting last eight games of first year), 30-17, 2 AFC Central titles, 2-3 in playoffs
2. Bill Parcells, Giants, 22-25, 2-2 in playoffs, no titles
3. Joe Gibbs, Redskins, 30-11, one Super Bowl title, two NFC championships
4. Bill Cowher, Steelers, 32-16, two AFC Central titles, 1-3 in playoffs
5. Mike Holmgren, Packers, 27-21, 2-2 in playoffs, no titles
6. Mike Shanahan, Raiders-Broncos (not counting four games of second season) 28-20, one AFC West title, 0-1 in playoffs
7. Dennis Green, Vikings, 30-18, two NFC Central titles, 0-3 in playoffs
8. Bill Belichick, Browns, 20-28, no titles, no playoffs
9. Jeff Fisher, Oilers, 23-25 (not counting last six games of first season), no titles, no playoffs
10. Tony Dungy, Bucs, 24-24, 1-1 in playoffs, no titles
How many NFL coaches should be Coach of the Year? Marvin Lewis. Tony Dungy. Lovie Smith. Tom Coughlin. And you can stop right there.
Oh yeah, and the Patriots’ Bill Belichick may get a vote or two. But he didn’t get one from defensive tackle John Thornton three years ago during free agency. While Thornton sat in Belichick’s Foxboro office and heard him correctly predict New England would be back in the Super Bowl that season, Thornton’s cell phone vibrated and while he didn’t answer it he knew it was Lewis calling because that’s all he had been doing.
“He called a lot. We had good communication. At the time, my agent didn’t like it, but it was good communication,” Thornton said. “A lot of agents don’t want players to get too close to the coaches. But I told Marvin to get the contract where other guys were, and I’ll come. He did it, and I kept my word, and he kept his word. He’s an honest person. A straight-forward person.”