Head coach Marvin Lewis expected it.
How couldn't he? Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer have generated significant interest in recent years for vacant head coaching positions. In the meantime, Hue Jackson returned to Cincinnati after his sudden firing in Oakland. Linebackers coach Paul Guenther was being mentored by one of the team's best all-time defensive coordinators. Both were on track to replace Gruden and/or Zimmer if that day ever arrived.
The ability to promote within has limited the impact it will have on the players.
"I don't want to go backward with that," said Lewis last week via Fox Sports. "I want to continue that just like we would if -- I love Mike Zimmer to death, but if we have to make a change, we'll do the same thing defensively. It's easier for one or two of us to come in and learn something new than to have 35-40 guys have to learn it new. It's not broke, so let's continue to tinker with it and get it better. Let's mend it and get it better."
Guenther knows the task ahead of him, not only as a first-time defensive coordinator but the shoes that he's replacing.
"I like working with Zim because he’s so aggressive and likes to be on the cutting edge," Guenther said via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It’s important to understand the whole concept. What kind of routes they are running against the pressures? What are the protections schemes against the pressures we run? Get the players to understand the big picture."
Cornerback Leon Hall applied a little more of a defeatist attitude, calling the loss of Zimmer a "bad day."
"Same system, same guys. On paper it sounds good," Hall said via Bengals.com. "But it will definitely be different. We have to work harder, study harder, and we really have to play better. You're not going to have him in your ear with his play calls at certain times. We definitely have to work harder.
"You can't replace him. You can run his defense if you want. Keep his calls and second-guess what calls he would have made in certain situations. But you can't replace him. His calls he made in certain situations were great. The impact he had on the guys was really impressive. Replace him? No. But I like to think we can keep things going. We have enough good players in here that played under him for a while. Hopefully we have the discipline to keep his legacy going."
Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap reflects on the promotion of Guenther:
Dunlap on Guenther:"He's been Zim's right hand man. It wouldn't change much of anything & I don't mind that much at all." #Bengals— Brad Johansen (@bradjohansen) January 15, 2014
More Dunlap on Guenther:"Obviously since (Zim/Gruden) wanted him on their staff, shows what a vauable asset he was to our defense" #Bengals— Brad Johansen (@bradjohansen) January 15, 2014