Teryl Austin has officially become the Cincinnati Bengals’ new defensive coordinator.
Austin is also bringing with him some real changes to the defensive scheme for the first time since Mike Zimmer joined the Bengals in 2008.
However, Austin says he won’t be making changes for the sake of making changes according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com:
“There are going to be changes but not wholesale changes,” said Austin. “It’s going to be my system because that’s what I know. But nothing is going to be decided until I get in there and look at the players and see what their strengths and weakness are. You look at what our guys do well and try to build around that. Do they do it great? Do they fly around? That’s what’s important, no matter what system you call it.”
This has to be music to fans’ ears all over Cincinnati. A common problem over the past few years has been forcing players into scheme’s or not bringing in talented players because they don’t fit the team’s scheme.
Of course, most of these problems were occurring on the offensive side of the ball, but this could help hide some of the Bengals’ issues that they’ve had for a few seasons.
For awhile now, the Bengals’ linebackers have been given a good amount of responsibility in coverage, but they really haven’t had linebackers who have been good in coverage.
This has led to opposing teams routinely picking on the linebackers in coverage, and it’s a big reason why the Bengals struggled to get opposing offenses off the field.
The other thing this led to was Austin not committing to a shift to a 3-4 defense or staying in a 4-3 defense.
“We’ll be multiple. I can’t promise you anything... I like to think I can coach anything when it comes to fronts, but obviously you’ve got a really good 4-3 front down there,” he said. “Really active. Really good players.”
The idea of being multiple fits perfectly into the doing what the players do best mantra. However, while the Bengals have players like Carl Lawson, who would thrive in a 3-4, it would be tough to ask the current group of linebackers to do more like they’d be asked to in a 3-4 setting.
Although bringing out a 3-4 set during pass-rushing situations could give an insane advantage to this Bengals defense, and if Austin is imaginative enough, he could dial up some exotic blitzes with the Bengals’ personnel.
The prime example of allowing players to do what they do best comes from last season according to Hobson:
He’s not a big man press guy in the back end but he could be if that’s what they can do. He did it enough this season his cornerback, Darius Slay, shared the NFL lead with eight interceptions. As Austin says, “I’ll do what they do.”
Hopefully, Austin sticks to his word and this idea of doing what the players do best spreads throughout the Bengals’ building for next season. If it does, we could see a real turnaround.