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Off-Season Step #1: Bengals Fire Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach

FYI, all news and updates for the Bengals defensive coordinator will be updated on THIS post only. At least for the time being. You can access this page on the right hand side under "Interest Stories".

UPDATE VIII: Search over. Bengals hire Mike Zimmer.

UPDATE VII: Signs point to Bengals hiring Zimmer

The Bengals are expected to remain quiet through the weekend but could name Mike Zimmer as their defensive coordinator as early as next week. Zimmer interviewed Jan. 4 with the Bengals in Cincinnati. [Curnutte]

UPDATE VI: Tim Lewis, DENIED; Rex Ryan NOT possible through a trade of draft picks

Carolina denied the Bengals permission to interview secondary coach Tim Lewis for Cincinnati's vacant coordinator position, though it would have been a promotion. The rumor was floated this week that the Bengals might be willing to trade a draft choice or two to the Ravens for Ryan's release. The Bengals are expected to receive several compensatory draft picks - one possibly as high as the third round - for the significant number of unrestricted free agents lost in the last free agency period. (Those picks won't be known until late March or early April.) But a league rule listed in its anti-tampering policy prohibits the exchange of draft picks or cash for any individual under contract with another team - except for a head coach or high-level club employees, such as a club president or general manager. [Enquirer]

UPDATE V: Bengals interview Mike Zimmer

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will interview today with the Bengals. Zimmer is still under contract with the Falcons, but was given permission by the team to pursue other opportunities. The Falcons are in the process of interviewing for a new head coach. Zimmer previously was defensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys. [Curnutte's Blog]

Zimmer was promoted to defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys in 2000 primarily using the 4-3 defense. He implemented the 3-4 -- likely persuaded by Bill Parcells -- with no background of using that defense in 2005. Mike Zimmer also turned down the head coaching position at Nebraska when the school let Bill Callahan go to stick around in the NFL. There was even speculation that Zimmer would get the Dallas head coaching position once Parcells retired. His 2003 Cowboys defense allowed a league best 253.5 yards per game. In 2004, the Cowboys went through a series of major injuries in the secondary

If you're curious, here's Zimmer's history as coordinator and where his defenses ranked in the league with points and yards allowed respectively. I would ignore his results in Atlanta simply because that team was, well, distracted. Is that a good word?

Season Team Points Yards
2000 Cowboys 22 19
2001 Cowboys 20 4
2002 Cowboys 13 18
2003 Cowboys 2 1
2004 Cowboys 27 16
2005 Cowboys 12 10
2006 Cowboys 20 13
2007 Falcons 29 28

UPDATE IV: DB Coach Kevin Coyle? Rex Ryan?

Don't discount Bengals defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle in the race to become Bengals defensive coordinator as Chuck Bresnahan's replacement. He and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese are two of the hardest workers on the staff and are known for watching untold hours of film.

Coyle was defensive coordinator for five college programs: U.S. Merchant Marine, 1981; Holy Cross, 1986-90; Syracuse, 1991-93; Maryland, 1994-96; Fresno State 1997-2000. Then-Bengals defensive coordinator Mark Duffner, Coyle's boss at Holy Cross and Maryland, brought him to the Bengals after the 2000 season.

Coyle also isn't afraid to speak his mind with head coach Marvin Lewis.

Other defensive coordinator candidates are Carolina Panthers secondary coach Tim Lewis and former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, fired along with Brian Billick and his entire staff Monday. [Curnutte's Blog]

Note: Rex Ryan is interviewing with Miami for the head coaching job there.

UPDATE III: Job Search Begins. Bengals looking at Tim Lewis.

Panthers defensive backs coach Tim Lewis is being considered for the vacant Cincinnati defensive coordinator position, according to a league source. Lewis joined the Panthers before this season and previously was defensive coordinator for the New York Giants. It’s unclear if the Panthers have given the Bengals permission to talk to Lewis. [Charlotte Blog]

UPDATE II: Bengals also fired linebackers coach Ricky Hunley. Donnie Henderson leading candidate for Defensive Coordinator Job.

For the third time under Marvin Lewis the Bengals appear to be looking for a defensive coordinator with one of the candidates possibly former Jets and Lions coordinator Donnie Henderson. ESPN reported Wednesday that the Bengals let go Chuck Bresnahan and linebackers coach Ricky Hunley. Bresnahan, 47, led the defense to finishes of 28, 30, and 27 in the NFL rankings the past three seasons. The Bengals, through public relations director Jack Brennan, won't confirm the reports. He did say the club could have an announcement on coaches as early as Thursday. []

UPDATE I: ESPN confirmed it. Chuck Bresnahan fired.

The first off-season shot was fired. The man targeted? Chuck Bresnahan. Expected. While Lewis made note that we shouldn't expect anything big, firing your defensive coordinator would, in our eyes, constitute as big. Are you shocked? Seriously. Are you? Though we should point out this report is coming out of Pro Football Talk and not confirmed at either the official site or any of the local beat writers.

Bresnahan, an assistant coach in 2004, was promoted to defensive coordinator before the 2005 season after the team fired Leslie Frazier -- now defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings.

In three seasons as the defensive coordinator, Bresnahan's defense averaged 21st in points allowed and 27th in yardage allowed. The Bengals became his first gig as Defensive Coordinator in the NFL. Below are year-by-year rankings for the defense.

Season Points Yards
2007 24 25
2006 17 30
2005 22 28
Under Frazier    
2004 21 19
2003 28 28

Sadly, I don't suspect much change with this firing. Firing one defensive coordinator for another equally anti-climatic coordinator is what we saw the last time the position changed hands. So call me suspect until the team can actually formulate a team that will advance beyond mediocrity into an expectation to win.