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Bengals Bytes (1/21): Coaches are getting scouted as much as the players

Jonathan Hayes is coaching the East team for the East West Shrine game, and it has been an eye opening experience for him in his expanded role.

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns

Bengals owner finally explains why he decided to bring Marvin Lewis back
One of the most surprising coaching moves of the NFL offseason involved a move that didn't actually happen. Although it had been reported that Marvin Lewis was going to leave Cincinnati after the 2017 season, Lewis' departure never came. Instead of parting ways after 15 years together, Bengals owner Mike Brown signed Lewis to a new two-year deal that will keep him tied to the Bengals through the 2019 season.

Bengals owner defends Lewis pact: 'We're not far off'
The Cincinnati Bengals made the surprising decision two weeks ago to retain long-time coach Marvin Lewis for a 16th season, just as it seemed they were finally ready to move on. Owner Mike Brown's decision to run it back one more time came after reports trickled out weeks prior to the end of the season that Lewis intended to "mutually part ways" with the organization. Odd enough, these rumblings were from Lewis himself; the Bengals coach told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport that moving into a front office role was "something I would listen to."

Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown brought Marvin Lewis back to provide 'continuity'
Bengals owner Mike Brown says the decision to bring Marvin Lewis back for a 16th season provides "continuity" despite a staff shakeup that saw defensive coordinator Paul Guenther leave, along with several other assistants. In separate interviews with and the Cincinnati Enquirer, Brown said he did not want to make a decision about Lewis' future until the end of the season and that the Bengals' back-to-back wins against the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens to end the season factored into the decision.

Prospects not confined to the field for Bengals
Jon Hayes, the Bengals tight ends coach, says he has to get off the phone because the van is going to leave. And he really has to get off the phone because he’s the head coach. In fact, he’s the guy that probably made sure the van is there. “It’s been an eye-opener for me because I realize I can do this,” says Hayes from St. Petersburg, Fla., home of Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game (3 p.m.-NFL Network).

TDBH: Bengals get their LT of the ‘70s in trade for Mayes
Rufus Mayes is the answer to the Who-Dey trivia question, “Who was the Bengals left tackle before Anthony Munoz?” But it’s far from a trivial move for Bengals head coach Paul Brown when he makes the second interleague trade in history today, sending his coveted defensive tackle Bill Staley, along with defensive end Harry Gunner to Chicago for Mayes, the rookie first-round pick who played so well at right tackle last season. Brown happily breaks down the deal even though it leaves him with just three defensive linemen in Andy Rice, Royce Berry, and Steve Chomyszak. “It was simply a horse for a horse,” Brown says with a smile. “That’s Staley for Mayes. I’m not sure why they wanted Gunner. They are well-heeled at defensive end … I guess they felt since Mayes was a first-round draft choice and Staley a second-round choice (from 1968) it would make it a little evener if we threw in an eighth-round draft choice.”

AFC North Bytes

The Steelers’ inability to prevent the big play leads to questions heading into the offseason
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense had their share of issues this season, none larger than their knack for giving up big plays. Whether it was to Jacoby Brissett, Brett Hundley or Blake Bortles, the Steelers’ defense didn’t discriminate. Big plays were surrendered by all of them, and more, throughout the 2017-2018 season.

Free Agency: Joe Thomas pushes for Drew Brees to sign with Browns
Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas has a strong opinion on where New Orleans Saints impending free agent quarterback Drew Brees should play next season. Of course, he believes the veteran QB should sign with Cleveland and make a run at securing a long-awaited Super Bowl title for Browns fans.

Random Bytes

Bill Belichick's small but notable role in Jaguars' turnaround season
Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL: 1. When the Patriots host the Jaguars in Sunday's AFC Championship Game, Bill Belichick's team will be going up against a regime he played a small part in constructing. It traces back to Belichick's willingness to help a newcomer to the NFL who sought him out with an interest in learning more about the game that is such a big part of Belichick's life.

Mike Vrabel Named Titans Head Coach After Mike Mularkey's Firing
The Tennessee Titans named former NFL linebacker and Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel their new head coach Saturday. According to Jim Wyatt of the Titans' official website, Vrabel will be formally introduced as the team's new head coach Monday.

Tom Brady Reportedly Will Start AFC Championship vs. Jaguars Despite Hand Injury
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will reportedly start Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars despite a hand injury, according to ESPN's Dianna Russini.'s Mike Reiss reported Brady suffered a cut to his throwing hand during a "minor collision" in Wednesday's practice.