Originally written on WhoDeyFans  |  Last updated 10/30/14

GEORGETOWN, KY - JULY 31: Marvin Lewis the Head Coach of the Cincinnati Bengals is pictured during the Bengals training camp at Georgetown College on July 31, 2009 in Georgetown, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The hiring of Marvin Lewis marked the end of the Lost Decade. In the wake of an extended period of football futility, most of Lewis’ tenure as head coach has been spent trying to steady a team that has lurched and backfired and stalled like a stick-shift AMC Pacer with a 16-year-old behind the wheel. In Lewis’ first two seasons, he lifted a team that had gone 55-137 in their 12 years under Mike Brown’s ownership and got them to repeat 8-8 records. Then in 2005, a high-flying offense and an opportunistic defense surged to become division champions for the first time since the demise of the AFC Central. And Bengals fans rejoiced. But the following years exposed the team’s weaknesses. They had plenty of talent but lacked the fortitude to overcome in the face of adversity. Playing a division winner’s schedule was more than they could handle in 2006, and a collapse at the end of the season dashed more than just playoff hopes. Fan discontent and disillusion began to settle in again. In 2009, the ‘Cardiac Cats’ began the season with a bang and managed to sweep the division on their way to winning the AFC North again. Again, the lurch to the top was followed by another stall the following year as the team stumbled to a 4-12 finish, back to last in the division. Since then, however, the team been on a better, slow and steady building trajectory. Last year they climbed back over the Browns to finish third in the division. The team showed that they had flaws. Increasing the strength of their schedule only slightly gave them a better chance to sustain their success going forward. Sustain they did. They will either match or improve their record from 2011 by one game this year. And they climbed over Pittsburgh to be second in the division, which will again increase the strength of their schedule for 2013. And while I would never wish away winning the division (which the Ravens secured for themselves this weekend by beating the Giants), taking second puts the Chargers and the Colts on the Bengals’ schedule in 2013 instead of the Broncos and the Texans. This steady build is giving the young talent on this team the chance to grow while still tasting success. Dalton and Green have not had to face the level of fan frustration and criticism that learning while losing has brought upon players like Richardson and Weeden in Cleveland. That’s not an insignificant difference for the psyche of players who are used to winning all along the way on their paths to the NFL. The Bengals are probably still about two years away from hitting their full stride. Andy Dalton still has room to grow as a signal caller, and most QBs don’t reach their full potential until around their fifth season anyway. Also, continued development on the O-line and secondary is necessary. But they are not so far away even now to finally get that elusive post-season win. So with continued steady growth, we should finally have something to be excited about for years to come.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Michael Vick: Starting at QB again is a dream come true

Red Sox to reportedly target Pablo Sandoval in offseason

Alex Rodriguez's season-long MLB ban comes to an end

Madison Bumgarner pitches Giants to World Series title

Giants fans get rowdy celebrating World Series win

Roy Williams' response to criticism over academic scandal

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jerry Jones challenging Tony Romo to play Sunday?

Wizards make rapper Wale new 'creative liaison' for team

Report: Joe Maddon to become Cubs manager

Rockets Harden and Ariza visit Julius Randle in the hospital

Dan Gilbert asked if he 'deserved' to have LeBron back

Brady: Maybe at Manning's age I'll be playing that well

WATCH: Randle offers money for massage in jailhouse video

Top storyline for each Week 9 NFL game

WATCH: Chevy guy bombs World Series presentation

WATCH: James Ennis throws down dunk of the season

Kris Humphries shares nasty photo of gruesome finger injury

WATCH: Joe Panik makes play of the game in Game 7

Russell Westbrook wears aluminum foil-like outfit

WATCH: Capitals' Chimera suffers nasty broken nose

Robert Griffin III to start against Vikings

WATCH: Navy raps about Notre Dame, set to ‘Anaconda’

Rulon Gardner selling Olympic memorabilia to pay $3.9M debt

Mike Pettine says he ‘can sense’ Johnny Manziel’s frustration

Bengals News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Top storyline for each Week 9 game

Williams' response to criticism

WATCH: Chevy guy totally bombs

Bumgarner pitches Giants to title

Report: Cubs to hire Maddon as manager

Tom Brady talks Peyton Manning

Best Game 7s in World Series history

NFL, MLB spend on mid-term elections

Gurley suspended four games

Gordie Howe suffered stroke

WATCH: Kobe and Dwight get into it

Notre Dame WR will not be punished

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.