Marvin Lewis may need the NFL to take him through a weekend course about where “the edge” is when it comes to player safety and what is and isn’t acceptable on the field.
Speaking Monday, the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals defended both Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones, who cost the team a chance to win a playoff game for the first time since 1991.
In particular, he defended Burfict’s now-infamous hit on Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown.
“It didn’t go over the edge,” Lewis said of Burfict’s hit, via Marc Sessler of NFL.com. “Unfortunately, he can’t have that kind of blow with a guy that’s receiving a pass. It didn’t go over the edge. I don’t think it’s over the line, I think it’s part of what football is now. And you have to learn to play within the scope of what football is right now.”
Technically, from a pure outside perspective, without having any other information in front of you other than the tape of the play, Lewis is correct. While the play was illegal, it could have been much, much worse. Think Odell Beckham Jr. spearing Josh Norman with ill intent (watch here). That was clearly over the edge.
However, when taking into account the fact that Burfict was already well over the edge before he launched his shoulder into Brown’s head, there is no doubt the linebacker cannot be defended for his actions. He was uncontrollable on the sidelines for much of the second half. Neither his coaches nor his teammates could get him to cool down.
Then when he got an opportunity to let off some steam, he did. And it cost his team the game.
Despite the fact that both players haven’t shown much remorse for their actions when speaking with the media, Lewis says they were pretty tore up about their mistakes.
“Both players couldn’t be more heartbroken, literally to tears, both of them, about what went on,” Lewis said. “That’s the first step, you know what I mean? To realize, ‘You know what? I’m wrong. And it’s unfortunate.'”
It is unfortunate that neither player has made any public statements to this effect.
Perhaps they never felt the need to do so, though, as protected players in Lewis’ locker room. Then again, Lewis himself continues to be protected by owner Mike Brown, who reportedly has not thought about hiring anyone to replace the worst playoff coach (0-7) in the NFL.