When the Bengals hired James Urban back in 2011, they felt as if they had a star on the staff. While he helped mold A.J. Green into a perennial Pro Bowl receiver and oversaw some solid seasons from Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, Urban wasn’t quite able to get the most out the group amidst major transition the past two years.
Urban has since moved on to Baltimore this offseason and the Bengals have brought in longtime NFL position coach, Bob Bicknell. For a guy who is 48 years old, his obtaining of 27 straight seasons of coaching at the college, NFL and NFL Europe is impressive. Cincinnati hopes that his relatively young age, coupled with his extensive resume can get the most out of the group in 2018.
Some of the big marks in career can be attributed to overseeing the talented, but personally-difficult DeSean Jackson in 2013 and Denzel Mims most recently at Baylor in 2017. Another facet of Bicknell’s career that has to be appealing to Marvin Lewis is his attachment to Chip Kelly. Bicknell coached the receivers in Philadelphia and San Francisco in the NFL, and while Kelly ran himself out of the league for the time-being, Cincinnati has had a rather anemic offense since 2016.
“A lot of it (speaking of a career year from Jackson in 2013) was the way we all kind of put that offense together and hopefully we can use some of those things,” Bicknell said, via Bengals.com. “Being around Chan Gailey and Chip Kelly, they’re very similar. A lot of that can hopefully form a pretty good situation for the receivers.”
Bicknell will be coaching one of the league’s premier wide receiver talents in A.J. Green while in Cincinnati. There are some finer points that he can coach up with the future Hall of Fame player, but Lewis will want to see if he can mine out the best from young receivers like Tyler Boyd, Josh Malone, Cody Core and, of course, John Ross.
Of course, he’ll be working with newly re-signed offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to mold those aforementioned youngsters, as both worked together with the Eagles under Kelly.
“The excitement of just trying to put together something that Chip had brought from Oregon to the NFL was really something special. Anybody who’s around Bill (Lazor), there’s not a smarter guy in football. He’s very well organized. Whenever I thought there was an opportunity (to re-unite), I just remember how I enjoyed football with him. We think a lot the same way and it’s exciting to be on a staff like that.”
Perhaps that’s part of the plan with the supposed “change” Lewis preached after he signed his own two-year deal. Obviously, having a staff who are all on the same page is key, so hiring guys who are familiar with each other plays into that mindset.
Bicknell has a lot of talent to work within Cincinnati, both refined and raw. If he’s to truly make his mark with the Bengals, it will be in rounding Ross, Boyd and others into consistent, viable players on this offense.