Bengals extend Lewis’ contract through 2014

The Bengals and head coach Marvin Lewis have agreed to a contract extension through the 2014 season, and that’s good news for the organization on many levels. 
First and foremost, his status is no longer a distraction ñ or a potential distraction ñ for a young team that’s coming off a playoff berth and appears to have the pieces in place to be a contender, on some level, for the next several years. 
With training camp in its first week, the Bengals can go forward with their focus strictly on posting back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 30 years. The talent appears to be in place to do it, and Lewis hasn’t been shy about embracing suddenly high expectations and the chance to turn a promising young team into a consistent winner.  
This season marks Lewis’ 10th as the Bengals head coach, the third-longest current tenure in the NFL. For comparison’s sake, he’s coached against Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Pat Shurmur in Bengals-Browns games. 
Stability is important in this game, and the Bengals now have Lewis and both coordinators – both considered rising stars – under contract through at least next season. The only way Jay Gruden and/or Mike Zimmer won’t be back for 2013 is if one or the other gets a head coaching job. 
That’s especially important with the Bengals, where the coaching staff essentially serves as the personnel department and has heavy input on draft and free-agency decisions. Though it’s yet to play a game, the 2012 Bengals draft class has been lauded as smart, solid and potentially very good. Making such drafts more habit than exception- and keeping the coaches who picked the players for their systems – is the best way to sustain NFL success. 
Since that nightmarish 2010 season, the Bengals have been able to flip the roster and establish a new core. We don’t know what the ceiling is for the Andy Dalton-A.J. Green combo, but with Andrew Whitworth and Kyle Cook entrenched on the line, Jermaine Gresham at tight end and a defensive group of players in their primes that includes Reggie Nelson, Rey Maualuga, Leon Hall and Carlos Dunlap, the Bengals have reasons to be excited.  
There are no longer any Chad Ochocincos, Cedric Bensons, Jerome  Simpsons or Terrell Owens on this Bengals roster. That’s not to say the Bengals will be free of egos or issues, but Lewis likes his locker room. His locker room knows he’s going to be in charge, and thereís a feeling inside that the Bengals are building something that can last. 
It’s late July, which means 32 teams have positive vibes and reasons for optimism. Keep an eye on the Bengals, though, as a team that just might make such feelings last.