By now, we’re getting the strong vibe that Marvin Lewis won’t be the team’s head coach in 2018.
Whether it was our own gut instincts, a second consecutive lackluster season, and/or substantiated rumors by national media members, the writing appears to be on the wall.
Even though the Bengals still have who they believe is their core intact, there needs to be a number of changes within the organization if they want to regain sustainable success. And, they need to make even more sweeping changes to get over the plateau that Lewis constructed in a somewhat-underachieving effort with the club.
Aside from Lewis and his forthcoming mutual parting from the team, there are other coaches who need to be under the microscope this offseason. And, like what Lewis did during his tenure, the new coach should have quite a bit of say on who stays in 2018.
We talked about this on a recent episode of The Orange and Black Insider podcast. Scott Schulze and I looked at a few candidates who should be on the table for replacement. Here are some of the names:
Paul Alexander, offensive line/assistant head coach: There are a lot of quality players who Alexander has coached with the Bengals since 1994, no more prominent than in the first years of the Lewis era. Still, with the lineup of Levi Jones, Eric Steinbach, Rich Braham, Bobbie Williams and Willie Anderson, he was working with four players picked in the first two rounds of the draft.
Throughout the 1990s, the Bengals had ups and downs on the line, while in the Andy Dalton era, there have been other peaks and valleys. And, do we really need to re-hash the whole Nate Livings/Evan Mathis debacle in 2009?
Really, for a guy who has a reputation for developing talent, it seems as if the main feathers in his cap are all in high draft selections who needed some fine tuning, rather than major coaching. Take a look at the struggles of the offensive line this year with Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler leaving in free agency last spring.
Paul Guenther, defensive coordinator: I have to give Guenther a bit of credit this year, as the team really wanted to get more out of their pass-rush and the Bengals have been one of the top teams in quarterback sacks. Carl Lawson has been a great find, as he’s second on the team in the statistical category.
However, an inexplicable lack of being able to stop the run, shoddy tackling and a noticeable dip in other major areas from the Mike Zimmer days has us wondering if he’s simply riding a bit of his predecessor’s coattails. Guenther has always gotten some solid production against the pass (they’re No. 8 this year), but a dead last ranking against the run is unacceptable.
Bill Lazor, offensive coordinator: This one is tough to assess. Was Lazor simply given a poor hand by taking over the unit in Week 3 and learning on the job, or is he in over his head?
Cincinnati is dead last in total offense and running the football, while employing the No. 28 passing attack. With three second round running backs on the roster, as well as A.J. Green and other contributors, it’s hard to fathom that this is how they fared this season—even with the offensive line issues.
Jim Haslett, linebackers coach: New Orleans’ former head coach seemed like a steal for the Bengals as a hire for a position coach, but his group continues to struggle in familiar areas. His group, as well as the secondary, have massive issues covering tight ends and tackling in the middle of the defense has been atrocious this season.
Missing Vontaze Burfict, his best player, for four games hasn’t helped, but the development of most of the other players has been “meh”. I suppose you can throw Lawson in his group, as he is technically listed as a linebacker, but Nick Vigil, Jordan Evans and Kevin Minter, the team’s big outside free agency acquisition, all have ended the year on sour notes.
What do you think about this staff? Is getting rid of some of these top assistants the answer to a quick turnaround in 2018?
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