One has to wonder where the Bengals would be had the Buccaneers completed their 18-point comeback in Week 8. In that game, the Bengals squeaked by with a 37-34 win in the final seconds, but the defense allowed the Buccaneers to score 25 second-half points while the offense failed to move the ball.
Thankfully, the offense got itself together for the final drive, which ended with Randy Bullock knocking a 44-yard field goal through the uprights, but the defense’s utter collapse was still a shock to see. As the Bengals entered their bye week, they were sitting at 5-3 and sticking to their guns. Had they been 4-4 with 13 days to prepare for their next game, perhaps we could’ve seen a coaching change on the defensive side of the ball.
That didn’t happen, though it probably should have.
Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has been fired as a result of his defense’s terrible play this season. And instead of hiring a replacement, Marvin Lewis is reportedly going to take over as defensive coordinator. We have another idea though...
The Bengals defense just allowed their third consecutive 500-yard game and fourth consecutive 450-yard+ game. The team is 1-3 in that stretch. When Lewis was asked after yesterday’s loss what has gone wrong with the defense, he did not give a clear answer.
I asked Marvin Lewis what has gone wrong with the defense. Several seconds of silence before he answered but he essentially said he wasn’t going to talk about it. Same thing when I asked if it was the scheme or at what point they’d consider a coaching change. Silence says a lot.— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) November 11, 2018
Now we know why and it’s that he was preparing to fire Austin. The news was reported just before 10 a.m. ET that Austin was axed. Around 10:25 a.m. it was announced that Lewis would take on the DC role.
In addition to allowing an unheard of amount of yards per game in recent weeks, the Bengals last four opponents have scored an average of 40 points per game. There’s also this mind-blowing information:
After further review, the 35 points allowed by the Bengals in the first half ties their franchise record for most points allowed at the half. They also allowed 35 points in 2005 against Indianapolis and 1979 against Houston.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) November 11, 2018
The Bengals’ defense has simply been bad. The bright side is their turnover totals, but they had zero forced turnovers on Sunday against the Saints. They didn’t even have any sacks.
Instead of Lewis taking on the DC job, we would support Austin’s replacement being linebackers coach Jim Haslett.
The former Saints head coach has the most coaching experience on the Bengals defensive coaching staff, and was the defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins before he came to Cincinnati. Haslett was fired from Washington, but he is Cincinnati’s best option in the middle of the season.
Turning to Haslett, however, will not magically improve the Bengals’ dire situation on defense. But at this point, a new direction looks like the best path going forward as the Bengals still have a winning record and are alive in the playoff hunt. The sooner the Bengals commit to that new path, the sooner they can fix things before they get even worse — if that’s even possible at this point.
He’ll reportedly get some extra responsibilities and a bigger role in the defense. Though, that’s all at least for now.
Jim Haslett’s role increases but it’s Lewis’ show on that side of the ball. https://t.co/849DrzfDRc— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) November 12, 2018
There was just no way the Bengals could justify commending Austin, nor letting him shield his incompetence behind wins and losses. The Bengals are now just one game above .500 after starting 4-1. Making the switch over the bye week would’ve been the logical time to do so, but firing a coordinator following a win is just about the exact opposite of the way the Bengals operate. Now, they didn’t have that luxury, and they sure didn’t have the time.
Seeing how Haslett would manage this maligned defense would do the team some good, and just inserting a fresh face would possibly inject some life into such a lifeless unit.
Instead — at least for now — it seems the Bengals will use Lewis as a defensive coordinator and head coach.