The Cincinnati Bengals are close to finalizing their 2018 coaching staff.
On Friday, the team announced they had signed Alex Van Pelt as the quarterbacks coach, Daronte Jones as the secondary (cornerbacks) coach and Matt Raich as a defensive assistant.
“We are fortunate to have the coaching staff nearly complete,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “These hires round out our defensive staff and provide another key offensive addition as we overhaul the offense.”
Additionally, the Bengals today announced the re-signing of eight assistant coaches. They join offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who re-signed last week.
Here is a look at the coaches from last season that will remain with the team in 2018:
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor (story)
This was probably the most questionable decision by the Bengals. Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator in Week 3 after a disastrous start under Ken Zampese, who was let go. Lazor’s 14-game stint was a mixed bag full of far more lows than highs, including a consistent inability to get any offense going after halftime. Alas, Lazor is back, so hopefully the Bengals see something no one else saw.
Secondary (safeties) coach Robert Livingston (story)
Robert Livingston will take on a bigger role with the secondary in 2018, as he is now the team’s safeties coach. Livingston helped former secondary coach Kevin Coyle in the development of Darqueze Dennard and William Jackson into quality starting cornerbacks in the 2017 season. Livingston also aided in the development of George Iloka and Shawn Williams into one of the NFL’s best safety tandems.
Linebackers coach Jim Haslett (story)
Jim Haslett is back to coach up the linebackers, who have been a mixed bag over the past two seasons. Haslett has helped Vontaze Burfict continue to play at a high level, but guys like Kevin Minter, Nick Vigil and Karlos Dansby left a lot to be desired. Hopefully, the Bengals will give Haslett some better linebackers to work with next season to pair with Burfict, who is shouldering far too big of a workload at his position.
D-line coach Jacob Burney (story)
Jacob Burney will remain with the Bengals after his defensive line was one of, if not the Bengals’ biggest strength in 2017. Burney has helped Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins continue to play at a Pro Bowl level, while Carl Lawson is a rising star on the edge. Burney also helped Michael Johnson transition into a combo defensive tackle/end, making him as effective of a starter as he’s been since returning to the Bengals in 2015.
Running backs coach Kyle Caskey (story)
You could make a good case for Kyle Caskey doing the best job of any Bengals coach in 2017. Despite working behind one of the worst offensive lines in football, Caskey got great production out of post-ACL tear Giovani Bernard, who looked as good as ever while helping the Bengals end their season on a high note. Caskey also helped Joe Mixon look like one of the best rookie running backs in the 2017 draft class, while fellow rookie Brian Hill also was productive in his limited snaps.
Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons (story)
Darrin Simmons is one of the longest-tenured coaches on the Bengals’ staff, and he’ll be sticking around for the 2018 season. His special teams units have consistently been among the NFL’s best, though they took a bit of a step back this season. Part of that was due to an onslaught of injuries on defense, including Pro Bowl returner Adam Jones. The Bengals were also forced to play a lot more rookies on special teams this past season, so while this unit took a step back, Simmons deserves to be back.
Assistant special teams coach Brayden Coombs
Brayden Coombs just finished his sixth season in a full staff position with the Bengals. For the fifth straight season, he worked with coordinator Darrin Simmons on special teams. Coombs assisted with weekly game planning and preparation, and he has full charge of selected special teams meetings and practice periods. He also assisted with the Bengals secondary for the second consecutive season, working specifically with cornerbacks.
Offensive assistant Dan Pitcher
Dan Pitcher just finished up his second season on the Bengals coaching staff as an offensive assistant/wide receivers coach. He has worked work with now-departed wide receivers coach James Urban in on-field coaching and support the offensive staff in multiple areas of scouting and game preparation.
Defensive quality control coach Marcus Lewis
The son of Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, Marcus Lewis just finished his fourth year on the Bengals staff as defensive quality control coach, with an emphasis on the defensive line.
Here is a look at the newest coaches joining the Bengals:
Secondary (cornerbacks) coach Daronte Jones (story)
Daronte Jones joins the Bengals from the Miami Dolphins, where he was assistant defensive backs coach from 2016-17. His previous collegiate experience includes assistant coaching roles at Wisconsin (2015), Hawaii (’12-14), UCLA (2010), Bowie State (’05-09), Nicholls State (2002) and Lenoir-Rhyne (2001). He also coached defensive backs for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League (2011) and served as defensive coordinator at two Louisiana high schools – Jeanerette High School (2004) and Franklin High School (2003).
Defensive assistant Matt Raich (story)
Matt Raich comes to Cincinnati from the Detroit Lions, where he served as assistant defensive line coach (’16-17), defensive assistant/defensive ends (2015) and defensive quality control (2014). Raich’s NFL experience includes six seasons with the Arizona Cardinals as linebackers coach (’09-12) and defensive assistant (’07-08) and five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers as offensive assistant (’04-06) and player personnel intern (’02-03). Raich previously held assistant coaching positions at Duquesne (2013), Robert Morris (‘00-02; ‘96-98), Glenville State (1999) and Westminster (Pa.) College (‘93-94). He was also the defensive coordinator for the Hildesheim Invaders of the former German Federal League in 1999.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin (story)
The Bengals lost Paul Guenther to the Raiders, but they wasted little time in replacing him with Teryl Austin, who comes to Cincinnati after a solid stint with the Lions. Austin uses an aggressive scheme that’s great at forcing turnovers, and he’ll have a lot more defensive talent to work with in Cincinnati than he had in Detroit.
Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell (story)
The Bengals lost James Urban to Baltimore, so they opted to replace him with a college coach that has plenty of NFL experience. Bob Bicknell has coached with the Chiefs (2007-09), Bills (2010-12), Eagles (2013-15) and 49ers (2016). He was Baylor’s wide receivers coach this past season.
Offensive line coach Frank Pollack (story)
This may be the Bengals’ biggest coaching addition this offseason, as Frank Pollack helped Dallas build one of the best offensive lines in football over the last three seasons. Pollack had a wealth of talent to work with in Dallas, so hopefully he’ll help the Bengals find some upgrades here in the 2018 NFL Draft, then coach them into a unit that rivals the NFL’s best offensive lines.
Now, here is a look at the coaches who will not be back with the Bengals in 2018:
Secondary coach Kevin Coyle (story)
As mentioned above, Kevin Coyle will not return as the Bengals’ secondary coach in 2018. It’s unclear why Coyle is being let go, though he’s had a mixed bag of results in his two-year stint with the Bengals since 2016. Coyle has helped a lot of Bengals defensive backs thrive in Cincinnati, but he’s also overseen the regression of Dre Kirkpatrick, Adam Jones and other defenders.
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther (story)
Paul Guenther appeared to be a candidate to be Cincinnati’s next head coach, but when the surprising decision to retain Marvin Lewis was made, Guenther decided to find a new job. As it turned out, Guenther was hired as defensive coordinator of the Raiders.
Offensive line coach Paul Alexander (story)
This was one of the easiest calls for the Bengals to make this offseason, as Paul Alexander has been very underwhelming as the team’s offensive line coach in recent years. Despite investing high draft picks in Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, neither has developed into so much as respectable starters, so letting the man largely responsible for their development, or lack thereof, made letting Alexander go an easy decision.
Wide receivers coach James Urban (story)
James Urban is one of the few coaches to depart this offseason by taking another job with a different team. Urban is joining the Baltimore Ravens after a solid stint coaching the Bengals’ wide receivers. The Bengals have not named a replacement for Urban as of Friday, Jan. 12.