For the second time in three years, the Cincinnati Bengals will once again have significant changes throughout their coaching staff. Co-defensive backs coaches Vance Joseph and Mark Carrier have left the team; Joseph to become the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator and Carrier for unknown reasons, and the Bengals are now bringing in the man who Joseph replaced to coach the defensive backs once again.
Kevin Coyle is the new Bengals defensive backs coach, a role he previously served in from 2003-2011 before becoming defensive coordinator of the Dolphins from 2012-15. Coyle will work with a Bengals defense that finished fourth in opposing yards per pass attempt (6.6) and third in interceptions (21) this past season.
"After being away for four years as a coordinator, Kevin comes back as another asset for (Bengals coordinator) Paul Guenther," Marvin Lewis said of Coyle in a press release announcing the hire. "We know Kevin as a great coach of secondary technique and as a coach with great ability to add ideas for game planning."
Coyle's time with the Dolphins was not great, by any means, but he did quietly develop Brent Grimes into one of the NFL's best corners (though he's more known for his wife). He also helped Reshad Jones become one of the league's top strong safeties.
In terms of yards allowed per game, Coyle's defenses in Miami finished 21st in both 2012 and 2013, 12th in 2014 and 25th this season (though he was only part of 4 games in the 2015 season before being fired). Part of his demise in Miami came with his inability to get the most out of prized free agent acquisition, Ndamukong Suh, but the entire team was a mess which led to head coach Joe Philbin being fired after four games, so it's hard to criticize any one assistant coach too much.
You can debate whether Coyle was a good defensive coordinator or not given all of the instability in Miami, but you cannot deny the success he had as a secondary coach in Cincinnati. Coyle originally joined the Bengals in 2001 as a defensive assistant before a promotion in 2003, becoming the team's secondary coach.
During his tenure, Coyle developed one of the NFL's top cornerback tandems of the late 2000s in Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph. Coyle also helped develop Deltha O'Neal into a first-team All-Pro selection in 2005, the year he tied the NFL-high with 10 interceptions. From 2003-10, the Bengals grabbed 150 interceptions, the fifth-most in the NFL. Of those 150 picks, 125 were snagged by defensive backs.
Coyle's impact was most felt in his final season in the Queen City when the Bengals' defense ranked seventh overall in 2011, which was mainly due to their ninth-ranked pass defense, despite grabbing just 10 interceptions.
Back in 2012, former Bengals offensive guard and current play-by-play for the Bengals radio network Dave Lapham reflected on Coyle to The Palm Beach Post:
"He understands the fundamentals and the techniques, and in his role cultivated multiple Pro Bowl guys in his tenure," Lapham said. "I have a lot of confidence he will succeed."
"He's been good with different kinds of personalities," Lapham said. "He raised Jonathan Joseph from a pup and he's a Pro Bowler (with Houston) now. He took Adam (Pacman) Jones, who had been out of the game for a while and is like a wild horse, and contained him. When Nate Clements came in (to replace Joseph) this year, he and Kevin hit a chord of mutual respect.
"All those guys are different, yet they all responded to Kevin Coyle. He's got the people skills to figure a guy out and handle his hot-button issues."
While losing Joseph and Carrier is notable, getting Coyle back in Cincinnati is a nice addition for the Bengals.