Originally written on WhoDeyFans  |  Last updated 11/17/14

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

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Wolves trade Corey Brewer to the Rockets

Yankees trade Prado to Marlins for Eovaldi in 5-player deal

Brandon Browner fined $8K for throwing Brandon Gibson to turf

Report: Sharper, NFLers called spiked drinks 'horny juice'

Rex Ryan: My wife could coach Tom Brady

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jim Harbaugh won in laser tag by 'hunting' 10-year-old kid

Eddie Lacy is ‘very blind,’ refuses to wear goggles

Michael Phelps pleads guilty to DUI, gets probation

NFL scouts not in love with Amari Cooper?

Report: No teams interested in trading for Lance Stephenson

It is not Chip Kelly's fault if Eagles miss playoffs

Video: Swaggy P elbows Steven Adams in throat, gets ejected

Video: Grizzlies buy car for assistant who had his stolen

Video: LeBron takes pass to the face from Dion Waiters

New video of Ray Rice incident emerges

President Obama calls James Franco “James Flacco”

NBA games of the weekend: Rondo's Dallas debut, Bulls-Grizz

Tuscaloosa students will have two days off if Bama plays in National Championship

Brady scares the **** out of his teammates celebrating

Longhorn Network’s yule log? Five hours of BEVO

Will a Chiefs WR finally catch a TD in Week 16?

Jon Lester and the Cubs

The Toronto Raptors reveal their new logo

NFL 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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Jon Lester and the Cubs

Report: NFL players used 'horny juice'

Top 10 worst NBA related commercials of all-time

Phelps gets probation for DUI

NFL coaches on hot seat in Week 16

The Roy Williams-Terrell Owens horse collar turns 10

Most underpaid NFL players in 2014

Gronk jokes about Brady compliment

In Matt Kemp, did the Dodgers find a pigeon in Padres?

Why the Saints are legit playoff threat

Impact of U.S.-Cuba relations on MLB

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.