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Former Bengals coaches and players find greener pastures with new NFL teams

It’s crazy how many former Bengals coaches and players will be in the playoffs with new teams this year, after getting to the postseason with Cincinnati just last year.

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NFL: Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a rough season overall for the Bengals, but the same cannot be said for several former players and coaches who left this offseason.

Among them is wide receiver Marvin Jones, who is now part of one of the NFL’s biggest surprises this season in Detroit. The Lions floundered to 7-9 records in two of the past three seasons, but Jones saw a great chance to be the No. 1 receiver with the Lions and they’ll now be a playoff team this season.

As it turns out, Jones has fallen by the wayside in Detroit’s high-flying offense, catching just 10 passes during the Lions’ current five-game winning streak, which now has them at 9-4 and in contention for a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.

Jones clearly made the right call in terms of which team exceeded expectations this year (Detroit) vs the one that’s fallen way short of theirs (Cincinnati). For the season, Jones has 46 catches for 797 yards and four scores.

Another receiver who left for greener pastures this offseason is Mohamed Sanu. He left this offseason for a bigger role with the Falcons, who lead the NFC South at 8-5 and are also in contention for a top-two seed in the NFC playoffs.

However, Sanu has also failed to live up to his lofty contract signed this offseason. He has just 49 catches for 521 yards and three scores. Even so, Sanu will likely be in the playoffs this year while his former team watches for home.

The same may also be true with Emmanuel Lamur, though his role with the 7-6 Vikings is far less than he had in Cincinnati. Lamur has appeared in all 13 games, but has a whopping eight tackles as he’s barely gotten on the field.

Lamur was joined in Minnesota by Andre Smith, but the former Bengals tackle is now on I.R. due to a torn triceps muscle. He made it through just four games before being lost for the season.

Leon Hall was thought to be all but set on re-signing with the Bengals this offseason, but spurned them to join the now-9-4 Giants. That turned out to be a great move by the 32-year old defensive back, who is now set to make it to the playoffs for a sixth-straight season after his previous five trips in Cincinnati. He just had an interception in the Giants’ big win over the Cowboys in Week 14.

And, the former Bengals player who left for maybe the most successful team this season is Reggie Nelson, who’s now a member of the 10-3 Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are most definitely making it to the postseason after a shockingly impressive season. Nelson is having a solid season, but nothing near his 8-interception season with the Bengals last year. Nelson is ranked as the 47th best safety in the league by PFF. Comparatively, his replacement as a starter, Shawn Williams, is ranked #42 by PFF. Nelson has 57 tackles, 9 passes defended and 3 interceptions this season. Those number are solid, but down from his 2015 campaign in Cincinnati which featured 77 tackles, 14 passes defended and an NFL-leading 8 interceptions.

But the success of former Bengals elsewhere is not only limited to players. Several coaches who were in Cincinnati just last year are now poised for playoff berths with new teams.

Among them is former secondary coach Vance Joseph, who has been instrumental in the Dolphins’ 8-5 season as their defensive coordinator. They currently hold the final Wild Card spot in the AFC, with three games remaining.

Elsewhere, former defensive line coach Jay Hayes us now with the Buccaneers, who are 8-5 and could win the NFC South, but if not, are in great shape for a Wild Card spot.

It’s crazy to think all of these coaches and players could be in the playoffs with new teams this season after getting there with the Bengals in 2015. All of those losses (and their new team’s gains) likely have something to do with Cincinnati’s disappointing 5-7-1 record this year.

The one coach who left and most definitely will have nothing to brag about when the season is over is former offensive coordinator and now-Browns head coach Hue Jackson. His 0-13 Browns are simply embarrassing. Maybe he would have been better off sticking around in Cincinnati for another year.