Marvin Lewis isn't talking about his future or his past as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.
As reports and speculation circulate that Lewis is reaching the end in his 15-year tenure with the Bengals, he could look back with pride on what he has meant to the franchise if he chose to do so.
Lewis chose not to reflect on the past in his conference-call interview with the Detroit media on Wednesday, focusing instead on Sunday's home game against the Lions at Paul Brown Stadium.
It has been a disappointing season. The Bengals never really were in contention in the AFC North. With a 5-9 record and two games left, they have to win their last two games – Sunday against the Lions, and the season finale on the road against the Ravens – to better last season's record of 6-9-1.
View photos of the starters for the Cincinnati Bengals.
If this is the last season for Lewis, it should not obscure what he has accomplished in Cincinnati. He took over a losing team in 2003 and made it competitive. The Bengals made seven playoff appearances and won four AFC North titles.
The one hole in his resume: The Bengals never won a playoff game.
The way the Bengals were outplayed in losing their last two games – 33-7 to the Bears two weeks ago and 34-7 to the Vikings on Sunday – raised questions of whether the players were merely going through the motions.
The Bears had a 29-14 advantage in first downs and 482-235 in yards gained. It was more of the same against the Vikings – 18-8 in first downs, and 345-161 in yards gained.
"No sir," Lewis replied when that question was raised Wednesday.
"Effort has been fine. We haven't made enough productive football plays on either side of the football to have an opportunity to win the game."
With the Lions still in the playoff hunt, Lewis was asked if preparation is any different from past seasons when the Bengals were consistent playoff contenders – and how he combats the urgency the Lions will take into the game.
"That was no different then or now," Lewis said of the mentality of getting ready. "You could ask me the same question any of the last seven years, and I'm going to tell you the same answer. That's all that matters, is the one week at a time.
"We've got to win out, too. There's no difference. Both teams have some urgency to it."
How the Bengals got to 5-9: They put themselves in a hole by losing the first three games, and they've sunk deeper by losing their last three to skid out of playoff contention.
A crushing 23-20 loss to the Steelers in Week 13 dropped the Bengals to 5-7 and effectively eliminated them from playoff contention. The Bengals had a 17-0 lead late in the first half and were ahead, 20-10, going into the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh rallied with 13 straight points and won the game on Chris Boswell's final-play field goal.
"It made winning the division a little more difficult," Lewis said. "But we still had an opportunity, and we failed to get it done the next week against the Bears."
Rookie risks, slim rewards: The Bengals took chances by drafting wide receiver John Ross in the first round and running back Joe Mixon in the second, and neither has made an impact.
Ross was drafted ninth overall out of Washington, despite having an existing shoulder injury that required surgery. He also injured a knee in the preseason and wound up playing only one game before going on injured reserve earlier this month.
Mixon was considered one of the most talented backs in the draft, but he dropped to the second round because of character issues. His rookie season has been uninspiring – a team-high 518 yards rushing, 3.3 yards per carry, and 27 catches for 266 yards.
Mixon missed the last two games because of a concussion sustained in the Pittsburgh game but participated in Wednesday's practice.
Bengal Bowlers: Defensive tackle Geno Atkins and wide receiver A.J. Green were voted to the Pro Bowl, despite Cincy's record.
Green leads the Bengals with 67 catches for 980 yards and eight TDs. Atkins has a team-high nine sacks, the most in the league of any tackle.
It's the seventh straight Pro Bowl for Green, and fourth straight and sixth in 10 seasons for Atkins.