There's a certain irritability concerning Tampa Bay's ownership, dragging their feet with their search for a new head coach. Mike Zimmer, Cincinnati's defensive coordinator, waits for a phone call, an email, text message or at the very least a personal message on Facebook about his status with the Buccaneers. In the meantime he soldiers on with Cincinnati's coaching staff in Mobile, Alabama evaluating talent at this year's Senior Bowl. Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, whose offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is a candidate, expressed frustration:
"Believe me, I'd love to know just so we can go forward," Rivera said. "We've got a lot of things we have to do and we've kind of put (them) off during this whole period."
Most NFL teams and their respective coaching staffs are already building their 2012 teams, compiling scouting reports through artful evaluation practices that will last four months into late April. Along the way coordinators are reviewing their team's work from last season, game-planning a strategy to improve their respective philosophies, compiling their own lists of players they want scouted during the limited time that they have.
When your coaches are candidates for a head coaching job, standing in-limbo with the burden of an indecisive ownership generating uncertainty, it tends to frustrate head coaches and the candidates that are vying for the job. Guys like Zimmer, Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements are unsure what tomorrow is going to bring. Though interviewed already, they're questioning whether they're finalists with every phone call possibly requesting a second interview. Suddenly this comes to mind. At the same time they're required to push that aside to continue their work for their respective employers. True. All of them are professionals, able enough to handle it. But they're also human. They're coaches that thrive on routine, feeling the mounting uncertainty building around them.
Even the unemployed are dealing with it. Mike Sherman, the only candidate that's undergone a second interview thus far, is currently out of work. Brad Childress, also out of work, is rumored to be a candidate as Cleveland's offensive coordinator. Even if the Browns are planning to hire Childress once he doesn't make the cut as Tampa Bay's head coach, there's nothing they can do about it right now. As a result Cleveland, who could draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, is priming their scouting season without an offensive coordinator.
Granted it's not entirely Tampa Bay's fault. Over the weekend reports surfaced that Oregon head coach Chip Kelly was on the verge to becoming the Buccaneers next head coach. Then he did the preverbal pull-out, sending Tampa Bay scurrying back to the drawing board.
Regardless, while they're deciding in Tampa Bay, everyone else that's believed to be a candidate continues the painful waiting game.
+ Tony Grossi's removal as the Cleveland Browns beat writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer is subtle reminder that we like what we do as independent bloggers that cover our favorite team. We'll expand on that in our next Bengals Banter.
+ There is growing speculation that the Cincinnati Bengals will not renew the contract for linebackers coach Jeff Fitzgerald. We can't say we're terribly surprised. Though he's dealt with injuries this year, Rey Maualuga's first year as the team's middle linebacker left a lot to be desired. More interestingly we wonder how much this has to do with Marvin Lewis having more control over his coaching staff and if this won't be a trend as contracts expire.
+ Is Bengals safety Reggie Nelson the team's top free agent priorities this offseason? We say yes but reader Bengals69 argues for Pat Sims, correctly correlating his season-ending injury with Cincinnati's declining rush defense. If one is required over the other, our biggest point boils down to depth. The team has a good core of defensive tackles in Geno Atkins and Domata Peko. After Nelson the safeties signed in 2012 looks like this: Chris Crocker, Taylor Mays and Robert Sands. That actually scares me. [Note: Though Jeromy Miles (RFA) and Gibril Wilson will become free agents, it wouldn't be surprising to see both return]
+ Tampa Bay fans debate why no one wants to coach for the Buccaneers.
+ Former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, believed to be a candidate if Zimmer leaves for Tampa Bay (when they make their choice around 2015), is emerging as a candidate for the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator job.
+ Our own Mojokong, as most Bengals fan probably agree, isn't willing to give Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco much respect yet.
+ Former Bengals defensive end Justin Smith arrives in at the hotel in Hawaii for the 2012 Pro Bowl with a case of Bud Light, having a few beers with some of his former Bengals friends.
+ John Cooper, one of Cincinnati's scouting consultants, was seen talking with multiple prospects during Wednesday's Senior Bowl practice.
+ WCPO's Dennis Janson is reporting that Cook is currently being hospitalized for pneumonia. Before there was Andy Dalton, there was quarterback Greg Cook. Here's praying for a speedy recovery.
+ ESPN's AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley tabbed Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis as All-AFC North head coach of the year and Jay Gruden as the offensive coordinator.