Bengals DC Candidate: Jim Schwartz

Jason Miller

The Cincinnati Bengals are tasked with replacing Mike Zimmer's big shoes with a new defensive coordinator. We take a look at an old friend that Marvin Lewis may hire.

[NOTE: Most of this posting is from previous stories with some new information]

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and Jim Schwartz have a special relationship. When Lewis was hired as Baltimore's defensive coordinator in 1996, he hired Schwartz to coach the outside linebackers. Schwartz was fired in Baltimore by head coach Brian Billick, who wanted to hire Mike Smith to replace him. Lewis, who calls his former protege "Jimmy" during virtually every interview when Schwartz is the subject, was instrumental in getting him another job.

"Jimmy was out a job and so I did the same thing with Jeff and Greg in order to convince them to give Jimmy an opportunity to interview with them in Tennessee," said Lewis. "And then later they thanked me."

Within two years, Schwartz was the defensive coordinator of a unit that ranked in the top-ten during his final two years in Tennessee before his eventual promotion to head coach in Detroit.

If you've ever worked in corporate America, or virtually any job in the country, you've probably experienced someone in management hiring a friend to help them out.

Make no mistake, Lewis and Schwartz are friends.

"When you work together like we did you spend a lot of time together," Lewis said in Oct. "When you come from the bottom like we did you really grind together. You really are that close.

"He’s got a great family. My wife and I and our kids know their family really well, but none of that matters once you get to Sunday," said Schwartz the week of the Bengals and Lions game.

Knowing Lewis, who tends to stick with what he knows rather than adventuring out, it wouldn't be a shock if he tried helping out a friend in Schwartz.

However, not necessarily as a defensive coordinator.

Maybe the Bengals hire Schwartz, but stick with the likely promotion Guenther as the team's defensive coordinator. The promotion leaves a vacancy for Schwartz as a linebackers coach -- considering that he's coached linebackers at in Baltimore ('96-98), Tennessee ('00) and in college at Colgate ('92) and Maryland ('89), it's not far removed from a possibility.

This gives Schwartz an opportunity to stay on defense and rebuild his defensive resume, eventually finding a home as a defensive coordinator -- maybe he stays and replaces Guenther if he leaves. Or maybe he leaves for a vacancy in the NFL the next year. There's always a plan.

It wouldn't be unlike Hue Jackson, who returned to Cincinnati as an assistant defensive backs coach, sliding into the running backs coach before becoming an offensive coordinator earlier this week.

However, this scenario seems the most unlikely. According to Jason La Canfora, two weeks ago, Schwartz was receiving some looks at defensive coordinator in Cleveland once their head coaching search gets squared away.

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