Teryl Austin is taking over the defensive coordinator role for the Bengals after Paul Guenther left for Oakland this offseason. Austin spent the past few seasons with the Lions where he helped the defense in Detroit become a turnover machine. The most important thing he will have to bring to Cincinnati is that same mentality after the Bengals struggled to take the ball away defensively last season. The only team with less turnovers than the Bengals was the Browns. Marvin Lewis is very excited about the caliber of coach the Bengals received in Austin.
“Obviously the big thing was his opportunity possibly to become a head coach in the NFL,” Lewis told ESPN’s Katherine Terrell. “I was waiting for that to break, and I know that will occur in his future.”
Austin has been around the NFL for awhile, and he has proven himself to be a valuable coach. His real calling card really is what he did with the Lions defense, which was abysmal before he got there.
His opportunity with the Bengals is a dream scenario for any coach looking to make that next step though. Cincinnati has a very talented defense that just added even more talent via the draft. Austin doesn’t have work around too many weaknesses in the roster to put a productive unit on the field. In fact he has a plethora of option as far as how to attack offenses. A word that keeps popping up with him is versatile. He has guys like Carl Lawson who the team will try at linebacker as well as using him in a pass rushing defensive end role after a productive rookie season. The team also has guys like Sam Hubbard, Jordan Willis and Michael Johnson who can lineup at the edge of the defensive line or kick inside.
It seems that so far, the Bengals’ defensive players are enjoying working with their new coordinator.
“He’s a laid-back guy,” fifth round rookie Andrew Brown told Terrell. “He makes sure we understand and process the information, and he’s not going too fast. He’s breaking it down to a point where we can understand.”
Veteran Preston Brown, a new addition to the Bengals via free agency, is also impressed by Austin’s unpredictable nature.
“They say he’s unpredictable, and that’s a good thing as a defensive coordinator. You don’t always want to do the same thing,” Brown said. “It might be the same thing, but it’s a different look. He’s big on looks and showing different things with the safeties and linebackers, so it should be fun. He’ll line guys up all over the field. You might say (you’re a) Mike, but you might not be in a Mike position.”
Lewis has a history of losing coordinators very frequently to head coaching positions. Most recently Jay Gruden (Washington), Hue Jackson (Cleveland) and Mike Zimmer (Minnesota) have all moved on to head coaching jobs. Former defensive backs coach Vance Joseph also left for a promotion as the Dolphins defensive coordinator before landing as head coach in Denver a year later. Paul Guenther has also frequently been interviewed for head coaching positions. Not to mention, Marvin Lewis is getting up there in age and could be close to retirement.
All in all, it seems like if Austin keeps succeeding in Cincinnati his shot at a head coaching position won’t be too far off. And, if that happens it would likely mean the Bengals’ defense is performing very well. It could be a win-win for Austin and Cincinnati.