Marvin Lewis is officially out after 16 years leading the Cincinnati Bengals. I’d like to start by saying how grateful I am, as a Bengals fan, for Lewis. He is the reason that many fans in my age group don’t know why Cincinnati used to be known as the “Bungles” for years. Yes, he never got this team over the hump for a playoff win, but he brought stability to the organization. He even brought respectability to a franchise that had been a laughing stock until his arrival in 2003. It was time for him to go but before we all celebrate his firing too much, please go look at the Bengals’ records in the years prior to Lewis becoming the head coach. Marvin Lewis pulled the Cincinnati Bengals out of a very dark period and deserves all the credit in the world for that. Thank you Marvin.
Now let’s look to the future. The Bengals are looking for a new head coach for the first time since I was 8 years old. Most people have no idea how owner Mike Brown will go about this process because it’s simply been too long. Brown has a reputation of being tight with his money. Does that carry over into the head coaching search? Or has Brown heard the outcry from fans and opens up the wallet to lure in a big time candidate. Time will tell and the Bengals’ organization is one of the more secretive around the league when it comes to leaking their thought process on team activities. With that in mind, let’s speculate about who will be the next head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cincinnati is being very tight lipped about this whole process so the only candidates we know of are the ones that are scheduled to be interviewed or that have already been interviewed. There have also been reports that the Bengals were waiting until after the Wild Card playoff games to look into more candidates.
This means more potential candidates could emerge in the coming days. While we are waiting for that news to come out, let’s take a glimpse at the current candidates. I will give their current position, their last coaching position before that, and one highlight that factors into the head coaching search.
Hired by Cincinnati as special assistant to the head coach after being fired by the Browns. Had a record of 3-36-1 in Cleveland
Offensive coordinator in Cincinnati since 2017. Spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins. His offenses as a coordinator have ranked 26th and 32nd in Cincinnati, and 26th and 14th in Miami.
Special teams coach for 16 seasons in Cincinnati. The last 6 of those seasons he has been the special teams coordinator. Assistant special teams coach and assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Carolina Panthers 1999-2002. Coached with Marvin Lewis in Baltimore early on in his career
Los Angeles Rams passing game coordinator in 2018. Served as their tight ends coach in 2017. Washington Redskins offensive quality control coach in 2016. Spent 5 total seasons working for the New England Patriots between 2002 and 2009. That’s a lot of time spent with two legitimate football geniuses in Bill Belichick and Sean McVay.
Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach. University of Cincinnati offensive coordinator in 2016. Spent 4 years as quarterbacks coach in Miami. He has been a part of the staff that turned Jared Goff into a star at the quarterback position in L.A.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator since 2016. Head coach at Southern Mississippi 2013-2015. Engineered a high powered offense in Tampa Bay despite inconsistent quarterback play.
Offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. Spent 2013-2017 as the running backs Coach for Kansas City. Coaching under Andy Reid, he hasn’t been the primary play caller but there is a lot to learn from a coach like Reid.
Head coach of the Denver Broncos 2017-2018. Defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins in 2016. There is a level of familiarity because Joseph was a defensive backs coach for Cincinnati in 2014 and 2015.
There is a lot of variety in that list of candidates. Offensive minds, defensive minds, young coaches, old coaches, the Bengals are obviously looking at every possibility. Both in-house and outside coaches are being interviewed and don’t think for a second that the in-house interviews are merely a formality. If owner Mike Brown is anything, he is loyal and has proved that again and again over the last 16 years. Those interviews within the organization should scare fans.
The “Top” In-House Candidate
I’ll highlight Hue Jackson has the top in-house guy for the job. Everyone in the city of Cincinnati will riot if that man gets the position of head coach again. After an atrocious tenure in Cleveland, where it later became evident that he was a large part of the issue, Marvin Lewis brought in his old friend to help with the team. Jackson isn’t a bad offensive coordinator, Andy Dalton had a strong season under him in 2015. He just isn’t cut out to be a head coach in the NFL and is only being considered by the Bengals because of the endorsement given by Lewis after he was fired.
The “Top” Outside Candidate
One of the top outside coaches for Cincinnati is former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph. When I say “top” I mean the top of the Bengals list, not mine or the rest of the Bengals fans. The Bengals have a ton of reported interest in Joseph and even requested an interview with Gary Kubiak, who is a senior personnel advisor in Denver, for an offensive coordinator position. (they were denied by the Broncos). This could be a strong indicator that Cincinnati is attempting to move forward with Joseph. As a fan, I sincerely hope this is not the hire they make. The NFL is trending toward offense and Joseph is a defensive mind. He could succeed with a strong offensive mind as his coordinator but I’m not sure I trust him to bring in the right guy after the last two seasons in Denver.
Cincinnati needs to bring the organization up to speed with the rest of the NFL. Marvin Lewis couldn’t get out of the early and mid-2000’s. The Bengals need that young, innovative offensive mind that every team is apparently chasing. The team is not the dumpster fire that some think it is, but still needs a strong coaching staff to fully utilize all the talent that still resides in Cincinnati. If they do go with a defensive minded coach like Joseph, they absolutely need to make sure that he brings in a very good offensive staff with him. Only time will tell if the city of Cincinnati and the fans were better off than everybody thought with the model of consistency that was Marvin Lewis.