Marvin Lewis won't have to answer questions about his contract again, at least not for a while.
The Cincinnati Bengals made the surprising announcement Tuesday morning that Lewis had signed a contract extension through 2014. We call it surprising because there were no indications a deal was close, and the Bengals allowed Lewis to be a "lame duck" coach in 2010 on the last year of his previous contract.
Lewis wound up re-signing with the team after the season, with the implicit promise that he would have more say in personnel matters. The Bengals have drafted exceedingly well of late and have one of the most promising young rosters in the NFL.
"I'm glad this is all behind now and we can move forward and coach," Lewis said during his Tuesday news conference. "I'm really happy to get the extension done and move forward. And just I think the excitement with what we've done, our football team, there still is a lot of work to do. The goals that we have in place are very, very important to achieve. ... There is nobody in Cincinnati who wants to win more than that man upstairs, and itâs my job to get him there."
It is a great sign of progress for the Bengals that Lewis' deal was done so early. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer also recently signed an extension through 2014. The Bengals are more stable now as an organization than they have been since Sam Wyche and Boomer Esiason were roaming the former AFC Central. (Or perhaps since owner Paul Brown was in control.)
Lewis has yet to win a playoff game as Bengals head coach, but he's led them to the playoffs three times. More impressively, he's only had three losing seasons out of nine since taking over the job.
In Cincinnati, that is undeniably a sign of progress.