Thursday, January 23, 2003

Bengals' new coach gets super raves


Lewis' defense set standard in '01 Super Bowl

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SAN DIEGO - Two years ago, the Baltimore Ravens' defense under coordinator Marvin Lewis dominated Super Bowl XXXV.

The Ravens defeated the New York Giants 34-7. Lewis' defense did not allow a touchdown, limited the Giants to 152 yards in offense, forced five turnovers and collected four sacks.

Lewis is now the Bengals' head coach. In the days approaching Sunday's Super Bowl XXXVII, between Oakland and Tampa Bay, Lewis' defense has emerged as the standard against which all others are measured.

Two of Lewis' Baltimore defensive starters, safety Rod Woodson and tackle Sam Adams, are with the Raiders. Another of Lewis' former starters, tackle Tony Siragusa, is here working for Fox Television.

A year ago, Tampa Bay general manager Rich McKay tried to hire Lewis as his head coach.

They all speak of Lewis' Baltimore defense with awe and predict Lewis will bring the same energy and intensity to Cincinnati.

"Marvin's going to bring a lot of discipline," said Woodson, who played for Lewis in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. "He has a lot of emotion. He's going to be extremely strict about being on time, disciplined. Hopefully, they'll give him the leeway to bring in some good players, spend a little more money. If they don't, man, that's a hard situation to be in."

Woodson was a defensive back for the Steelers, and in 1992 his position coach was former Bengals coach Dick LeBeau. Lewis was linebackers coach.

"Dick taught Marvin the defense. You're going to get the same kind of defense but a little bit more intensity with Marvin than Dick," Woodson said.

Siragusa and Adams were the anchors of the Ravens defensive line.

"I think Marvin's going to do well with the Bengals," Siragusa said. "I talked to him (Monday). He wants to change a lot of things. He's going to be a part of getting players in there.

"The biggest thing we talked about is changing the attitude, believing that you can win. That's the biggest battle he's going to have to overcome. I told him the best thing he could do is change the name of the team, change their colors, do whatever they can."

Adams also praised the Bengals' hiring of Lewis.

"They couldn't have picked a better guy than Marvin," said Adams, who made a free agent visit to Cincinnati at the end of last season.

"Marvin's work ethic is impeccable. He's going to work harder than you. He's going to try to out-plan you. He'll put that into his players. That's the important thing."

McKay wanted to hire Lewis at the end of the 2001 season. He was overruled by the Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers. The job went to Jon Gruden.

Still, Lewis remains highly respected in Tampa Bay.

"I know he'll do a great job," McKay said. "The one thing Marvin's going to do is work real hard. And Marvin is not going to accept losing."

McKay also can empathize with the job waiting for Lewis with the Bengals. The Buccaneers were coming off 12 consecutive losing seasons when McKay became GM in 1995.

"The hard thing in Cincinnati is you fight, so much like we did, the perception," McKay said. "It's not reality. You can overcome perception."

E-mail mcurnutte@enquirer.com




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