When you look at the Bengals' 2016 season, awesome coaching performances don't readily jump out with a 6-9-1 record. Whether it was Marvin Lewis failing to get his team past the hangover from the Wild Card debacle a year ago, the offensive line's issues throughout the season, or the situation at kicker, it's hard to celebrate many leaders from the staff.
Still, we have to look at some of the coaches who had to deal with either new roles, or with veteran leaders whose units experienced massive turnover either in the offseason or when the real games hit. Cast your vote for the Bengals' 2016 Coach of the Year and sound off on your winner!
Kyle Caskey, Running Backs Coach: Whether it was in dealing with injury, or being tasked with making sure Jeremy Hill didn't lose the football this year, Caskey did some great work with his group. Hill and Rex Burkhead both had 100-yard rushing performances within the group, while Giovani Bernard also had a 100-yard receiving performance in Week 2. The fact that Cincinnati finished 13th in rushing offense while experiencing injuries to both Bernard and Hill, as well as facing major offensive line issues all season is a testament to Caskey's work.
James Urban, Wide Receivers Coach: Urban is another coach who had to deal with a lot of change and personnel issues. Whether it was A.J. Green going down for essentially seven games after surging to what could have been the best year of his career, or providing Brandon LaFell with a career resurgence in 2016, Urban brought a lot to the Bengals' coaching table. Additionally, rookies Tyler Boyd, Cody Core and Alex Erickson all contributed in various ways, showing Urban's ability to develop young talent, which is a valuable asset to the team.
Paul Guenther, Defensive Coordinator: It wasn't the prettiest of years from the unit, but Guenther's defense largely kept the Bengals in games--particularly late in the year. When you look at the Cincinnati's 3-5 post-bye record, the opposition was held to 19 or fewer points six times. Although the Bengals' defense finished at a pedestrian No. 17 overall ranking, they were 11th against the pass. Safety Shawn Williams and cornerbacks Josh Shaw and Dre Kirkpatrick all had nice 2016 campaigns, which was needed in the wake of multiple offseason issues.
Jonathan Hayes, Tight Ends Coach: Like Urban, Hayes had to not only deal with the loss of his brother on the staff, but also injuries to his star player, Tyler Eifert. The Bengals' starting tight end missed half of the season with various injuries. The Pro Bowler still grabbed five touchdowns in eight games, while Hayes also oversaw C.J. Uzomah emerge as an improving player in Eifert's absence. Even though the tight ends aren't always the focal point of the Bengals' offense, the former "Hard Knocks" celebrity has developed some nice pass-catchers--especially in recent years.