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The Bengals will survive Mike Zimmer's departure

Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is leaving. But it's not the end.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Zimmer leaving for a Grey Havens of head coaching opportunities has been a realistic scenario since the interviews began several years ago. Many turn out to be one-and-done situations. Thanks but no thanks, but with enough diplomacy and nicety to avoid being called a "gutless bastard."

Now it's January 15, 2014. The date that Mike Zimmer left Cincinnati to become Minnesota's newest head coach.

Despite the enthusiastic prayers that all of this had been a bad dream -- a nightmare that even Freddy Kruger couldn't conjure -- this was an inevitability that the Bengals knew was coming.

We'll let you in on a little secret.

The Bengals will survive. A massive yellow orb will rise from the quiet horizon and slowly crawl against the bright blue hue that encapsulates our existence.

Whether it's linebackers coach Paul Guenther applying the "next man up", as the understudy for Zimmer's entire six seasons or the previously successful Jim Schwartz (when he was a defensive coordinator), the Bengals will survive.

And why is that?

The players.

"We would definitely miss him. He's a motivator and guys love to play for him," Geathers said via "But no one in that room is looking to go backwards. He made us believe in ourselves. It's not like we haven't been good. We know how we got there: hard work, consistency. Doing the little things. We have the foundation."

If it's not players like Geathers, or defensive tackle Domata Peko, cornerback Leon Hall, maybe even safety Chris Crocker (we'll know by week four in '14 if he'll play next season) to take on those roles of mentorship, then it's the talent-rich core of Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Vontaze Burfict; all of whom are young and developing into core leaders that carried Cincinnati for much of the past three years.

Zimmer had left an impression on everyone; something that won't suddenly wink out of existence. Those motivating speeches are drawn from memory, even developing players as leaders that can carry the message presented from Zimmer.

And who's to say that Guenther doesn't have what it takes be an excellent defensive coordinator himself, if he's promoted? He's already proven himself as an excellent developer, evident by Vontaze Burfict, Emmanuel Lamur and to some degree, Taylor Mays. Surely he picked up some from Zimmer's style.

It's a sad day in Cincinnati with Zimmer leaving. But it's not the end. This team is too damned good for that