It's funny how we were looking into the face of a similar dilemma in 2008, and by similar, I mean exact opposite. From 2005 to 2008, the Bengals had a fully functioning, high-octane offense; it was their defense that let them down. So, in the off season, decided it best to fire defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan (who was recently hired by Hue Jackson in Oakland) and look for somebody who would be able to re-tool the defense. He found that somebody 13 days later: Mike Zimmer.
As we all know, Zimmer has had a profound effect on the Bengals defense -- they're good now. The Bengals finished their 2009 playoff season with a top-five defense that, more than likely, was more than partially responsible for hosting their second playoff game in five years. Unfortunately, as the defense began to climb, the offense began to fall. I'm fairly sure that, while the defense didn't have the best season in 2010, most of us are sure that the unit is more than capable of bouncing back in 2011. That wasn't possible for the offense; changes needed to be made.
The news of the Bengals new offensive coordinator could come as soon as Wednesday and John Thornton thinks the Bengals need to find somebody who has the same effect on the offense that Zimmer has on the defense. That is, the new offensive coordinator needs to be a disciplinarian who demands respect and scares the crap out of the offensive players.
That being said, the Bengals can find someone to come in and command the same kind of respect that current defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer did in 2008. At that time, the Bengals D was the achilles heel of the team, and was holding the team back from being a perennial playoff contender. Now the roles seem to be reversed. The defense still isn’t a consistent unit, but they played well enough in 2010 to win more games than the team won. A guy like Brian Billick would be my choice for OC.
Thornton believes that Billick is the perfect fit for the Bengals and can help get their offensive ball rolling again. Billick has been working as a sports broadcaster since he was dismissed from coaching the Ravens in 2007. Thornton thinks he wants to get back into coaching, though.
I know Billick has a sweet TV job working for Fox and NFL Network, but people seem to think he wants to be a head coach again. The longer he does TV, the more teams will pass him up for cheaper hot shot assistants, and hot college coaches. And with Jeff Fisher, Bill Cowher, and Jon Gruden all looking like they will return in 2012, Billick has to get back into the race. Two things that Billick has going for him is that he has a relationship with Marvin Lewis and he will command the respect of a room. He is kind of an arrogant, know it all, confident, cocky coach that may be just what the Bengals offense needs.
Of course, it would likely cost the Bengals a pretty penny if they decided to try and coax Billick out from behind the desk and back to the sidelines, but hey, good things are never free, right?