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Ties run deep between the Bengals and Buccaneers including 2 pairs of best friends

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Despite off-the-field friendships between coaches and players, there will be no love lost when Bengals face Buccaneers on Sunday.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

No one told Marvin Lewis the Bengals’ season was going to go this way. Their linebackers are a joke. Tyler Eifert’s ankle is broken. The pass rush has been DOA. Fortunately, Lewis has a deep group of coaching friends he can turn to for advice. That group includes many of his former assistants as well as Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter.

Lewis and Koetter met when they both played for the Bengals. The Idaho State Bengals that is. Their friendship continued as they attended grad school and both began their coaching careers. According to the Idaho State Journal, more time was spent working on football in those grad school classes, then their actual curriculum.

“Marvin’s one of the best people, let alone coaches, I’ve ever been around. I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” Koetter told ESPN’s Mike DiRocco,

According to Koetter one of the big things Lewis emphasized to him was to throw the ball deep.

“He said offenses don’t throw deep enough.” Lewis may regret this advice, as Koetter brings Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and O.J. Howard to town with him this weekend. Maybe the Bengals’ head coach needs to take his own advice this weekend.

But their friendship has been on a break lately, and not the “girl from the copy store” kind of break. Lewis has necessarily avoided contact with his upcoming opponent and told reporters, “We may have talked after the Falcons game, but we haven’t talked in the past two weeks.”

“I kind of grew up eating Thanksgiving dinner at his home, and I went to high school football games with his mother when his dad was coaching and his brother was the quarterback,” Lewis said of his friendship with Koetter this week. “Then later on, I worked for his father. So it’s a little bit unique. His dad coached and mentored us all the way through.”

Jim Koetter (Dirk’s father) was the head coach at Idaho State from 1983-1987. Additionally, Lewis introduced the younger Koetter to his now wife and was in their wedding party. Lewis’ daughter Whitney was the flower girl. So it’s safe to say, these coaches are very close.

There is one connection between the Bengals and Buccaneers that may go even deeper. Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson and Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber were teammates at Milton high school in Georgia and roommates at Auburn.

Barber didn’t introduce Lawson to his current girlfriend, but he was there when Lawson met Rachel Dincoff at Auburn.

The Buccaneers picked Barber up after he went undrafted in 2016. He saw limited time until the end of 2017. With running back Doug Martin now on the Raiders, Barber became the starter in 2018. He has been limited in practice this week due to an ankle injury and has only averaged 3.5 yards per carry so far this season. You could say that it hasn’t been his day, his week, his month, or even his year.

Lawson was a fourth round pick of the Bengals who had a great rookie season with 8.5 sacks in 2017. He is currently second on the team in total pressures, despite his inexplicably limited playing time.

Both the Bengals and Buccaneers are at critical junctures in their season. The friendships between coaches and players won’t mean a thing after the first whistle blows. Both teams came into the season with high expectations and both Koetter and Lewis are fighting to get their teams where they need to be.

Other Bengals/Buccaneers connections include:

  • Bengals DE Michael Johnson played for the Buccaneers in 2014.
  • Buccaneers QB Ryan Fitzpatrick played for the Bengals from 2007-08.
  • Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mark Duffner coached for the Bengals from 1997-2002. Duffner also coached at the University of Cincinnati (1977-80) and Ohio State University from 1975-76.
  • Buccaneers defensive line coach Brentson Buckner played for the Bengals in 1997.
  • Bengals quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt was with the Buccaneers from 2010-11.