Cincinnati Bengals, Marvin Lewis, Back to Square One

Joe HarringtonContributor IMay 7, 2009

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 24:  Head coach Marvin Lewis of the North team during the Under Armour Senior Bowl on January 24, 2009 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

When Marvin Lewis came to Cincinnati, just three years removed from winning the Superbowl as the defensive coordinator for the conference rival Baltimore Ravens, he brought with him a "do your job" mentality that took the city by storm.

Of course it also helps when Carson Palmer is throwing 60-yard missiles to a streaking Chad Johnson and Rudi Johnson is running behind the most underrated right tackle in the league, Willie Anderson.

After taking the team to the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades in2006, the Bengals have gone from Must See TV comedy show to the new CBS Sunday drama.

Gone is T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Levi Jones, Anderson, Rudi Johnson, Brian Simmons, Rich Brahm and Delta O'Niel.

Came was arrests, DUIs, missed extra points against Denver with the playoffs on the line and Sam Adams (the player, not the beer).

Yes, it's been a long three years since the playoff run that captured the city, and 2009 appears to be the start of yet another rebuilding process, and the last shot for Marvin Lewis to win a playoff game in Cincinnati.

The offense is no longer the threat it was when Palmer was being mentioned as a MVP candidate.

After the departure of Houshmandzadeh, the Bengals are left with Ochocinco (the artist who kidnapped Chad Johnson, changed his happy demeanor and returned as a man who hates Skyline Chili and anything else related to the Queen City), Chris Henry (if he stays out of a cop car) and a very expensive Laveranues Coles (was he really worth $28 million) catching the ball.

The biggest surprise was the late season surge by Cedric Benson, who re-signed with the Bengals and will provide stability to the position, now that the Chris Perry era is over.

The success of the offense rest on the arms, guts and knees of the offensive line. First round draft pick Andre Smith should be a starter. While rumors are that coaches like Anthony Collins, a fourth round pick out of Kansas in 2008, to replace the fragile and cut Levi Jones, whether they will move Collins to protect the blindside is still a wait and see.

Smith, the best run blocker in the draft, may be a better fit on the right side considering his raw pass-blocking skills. The interior of the line should be revamped with another rookie Jonathan Luigs contending at center.

If the line comes together, and Palmer has time to stay healthy, you could see a repeat of the dynamic offense that the Bengals had in 2006.

But for the first time in the Lewis reign, the Defense may be the strongest part of the team.

Stop laughing. 

New arrivals Tank Johnson and Roy Williams will provide playoff, Pro Bowl experience and stories about T.O.

With two former first-round picks playing corner, Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall, the Bengals will be banking that the now experienced pair can become a dynamic duo.

But the focus will be on the linebackers. Rey Manaluga and Kieth Rivers are two high-profiled linebackers and Dahani Jones, the television star, make up what could either be the biggest surprise linebacking corp in the NFL, or a very inconsistent one.

With the Ravens and Steelers still relying on defense and ground game to win, and whatever the Browns will do, the AFC North is still a run stopping defense conference. Stop the run and you can win. Which means the linebackers, tackles Johnson and Domata Peko will have to play well up the middle.

Second year defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is popular in Cincinnati, and will only get more popular if the defense has a successful season. (Another former Dallas Cowboy)

The Marvin Lewis honey moon is surprisingly just now wearing off in Cincinnati, despite three puzzling years since the playoff game. This upcoming season, it will be Lewis who needs to do his job, or else he won't have one.