clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cincy Jungle Roundtable: Final thoughts on Bengals coaching search

Our staff got together and gave their final input on the Bengals’ coaching search.


The Cincinnati Bengals are in the market for a new head coach, and it appears the search is winding now.

With a hire likely coming soon, we gathered our staff for a good old fashioned roundtable to discuss who makes the most sense, who is the worst fit, and who we ultimately think the choice is.

Matt Minich

Who do you think they are going to hire?

I’m going with Eric Bieniemy. It was rumored that the Bengals wanted an innovative offensive coach, and that is certainly what they get in Bieniemy. Everyone wants the next Sean McVay, Matt Nagy or Doug Pederson and with Bienemy, the Bengals get a coach from the same tree as Pederson and Nagy.

Many people though the Bengals would go with an internal higher or a former Lewis assistant like Vance Joseph or Hue Jackson because the Brown family likes to keep things in house. He did not coach the Bengals, but Bieniemy was a running back for the club from 1995 to 1998 giving ownership the familiarity they so value.

There has been a lot of warranted criticism of the Bengals franchise and their former head coach Marvin Lewis in recent years. It is easy to forget that when the team hired Lewis he was one of the hottest head coaching candidates in the NFL. Bieniemy falls into that same category as well.

Lewis coached one of the greatest defenses of all time and Bieniemy coaches an incredible offense. Some people even thought at the beginning of this process that Bieniemy would be too popular of a candidate and that the Bengals would never have a chance at him. Bieniemy is a well qualified and somewhat obvious choice, just like Lewis was.

Who do you want them to hire?

Bieniemy. The Bengals have shown interest in offensive coaches from the Rams as well, but it is yet to see how McVay’s assistants will fare on their own. Is the Rams success a one man show or are these assistants being groomed as the next generation of NFL head coaching stars? At this point, no one knows. However, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s last two offensive coordinators (Matt Nagy and Doug Pederson) both led teams to the playoffs this season. Bieniemy comes from proven stock.

Bieniemy is a humble but confident veteran coach who understands how to win. With the Chiefs he has made great use of his personnel, particularly finding different ways to get the ball in Tyreek Hill’s hands. This is a blueprint for how the Bengals should use John Ross. He also did a great job getting the ball to his running backs in the passing, which would allow the team to finally get full use out of Joe Mixon.

People have complained that Eric Bieniemy has only one year of experience as an offensive coordinator and does not coach the quarterback. Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn was also a long-time running backs coach with only one year of offensive coordinator experience, and he is looking like a pretty good hire.

Who is the worst case scenario?

Hopefully Mike Brown is just messing with us by even considering Hue Jackson. He is the worst head coach of all time, so obviously hiring him is the worst case scenario. Jackson coached a team in Cleveland that went 0-16. How that didn’t get him fired, I’ll never understand.

Wins are not an easy thing to come by in the NFL, at that point they were still engaged in the epic odyssey for their franchise quarterback, but if a coach can’t figure out how to win a game he is hopeless. To quote Glengarry Glen Ross: “a loser is a loser.”

He went out like a loser too; blaming everyone but himself. It is easy to see why the Browns got better when he left. A huge weight was lifted off of their shoulders.

Then of course Hue the albatross headed back to Cincinnati where the battered Bengals collapsed. While the Bengals had plenty of issues including injuries and poor coaching, hiring Jackson may have been the last straw.

There is something called “the broken glass theory.” Essentially it is the idea that when windows are broken and unrepaired in an area, crime will increase because people realize nobody cares. Hiring Hue Jackson likely had the same impact on the Bengals’ season as Marvin Lewis tacking a baseball bat to every window in Paul Brown Stadium.

Patrick Judis

Who do we ‘think’ the Bengals are going to hire?

I really do think that with Marvin Lewis being fired means the team will ultimately move on from his coaching tree. It feels like if they were going to hire Vance Joseph or Hue Jackson that they’d have done it by now. The Bengals have long been known for not caring what the popular decision is, so I don’t think that'd stop them from filling the opening about as quickly the other teams did with one of those two.

Ultimately, I think it will be the Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. He may not have play calling experience, but he has obviously been around some amazing offensive minds the past few seasons, which may be appealing to the Bengals decision makers.

Who do we ‘want’ them to hire?

Eric Bieniemy, Zac Taylor or Todd Monken all seem pretty even in my eyes. Ideally, the Bengals add an offensive minded head coach with experience in modern NFL offenses (not something I’d say the Bengals have had the past few seasons).

The slight tiebreaker goes to Monken as he has experience as a play caller, so he is more of a known commodity in that respect. It’s worth repeating that any of those guys would get me excited for next season though.

Who is the worst case scenario?

Jackson is the obvious choice. I wouldn’t be excited about Joseph either unless it came with a great offensive coordinator, but even then some of his choices from his time in Denver were very questionable.

The Bengals need an actual new era. Not just a diet Lewis.

John Sheeran

Who do we ‘think’ the Bengals are going to hire?

At this point I believe Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy or one of the Rams’ assistants (Zac Taylor or Shane Waldron) are the candidates in play. The fact that they haven’t announced anything yet is evident that they simply cannot make an announcement because the hire is still coaching in the playoffs.

The Chiefs and Rams each had a first-round bye last weekend and could only interview for teams last week. With all the other hirings happening around the league, the Bengals may feel comfortable they will be able to hire the guy that they want.

Who do we ‘want’ them to hire?

Despite all of that, my preference remains former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken, the other external candidate they’ve interviewed. Bieniemy, Taylor and Waldron are all intriguing but I love Monken’s résumé the most. Having resurrected the Southern Miss program as their head coach to then designing and scheming an explosive passing offense in Tampa Bay, Monken’s experience as an offensive mind and leader speaks volumes.

I’d be fine with the other three candidates (with Bieniemy being my second choice), who all seem to be the more likely choices, but Monken is my top guy. If he were to join the staff in any capacity along with one of them, that’d be great as well, but he’s likely going to be nothing less than an offensive coordinator somewhere.

Who is the worst case scenario?

More like ‘Hue’ is the worst case scenario. Hue Jackson is the obvious choice, but the other three internal candidates can essentially be grouped with him. The Bengals need to rid themselves of as many coaches with ties to Marvin Lewis as possible (and they’ve already begun that process). It’s difficult to do that the longer you wait to hire the new head coach, but it’s a necessary action if they want to truly experience progress.

Jackson is the worst head coach in the history of the game since the 1970 merger. Any justification of his hiring would be significantly outweighed by simple reasoning. Bill Lazor and Vance Joseph aren’t too far behind him as the worst case, and Darrin Simmons to me is the best of the worst. Simmons would likely lean on his offensive and defensive coordinators, but imagine if they were Jackson and Joseph? Eek!

Jason Marcum

Who do I ‘think’ the Bengals are going to hire?

At this point, I think it’s very likely between Chiefs offensive coordinator and Rams QBs coach Zac Taylor. all of the tea leaves suggest that the hire will be from an offensive-minded coach outside of the organization that’s still in the playoffs.

As of now, I would guess it’s Bieniemy, but Taylor did reportedly impress in interviews. The thing I want to see from either of those guys is to hire a proven offensive coordinator to call plays in Cincinnati.

I just don’t want an offensive guy who didn’t call plays for his team to come in, be the head coach and call his plays. That’s asking for disaster.

So for now, I’m going with Bieniemy, who hopefully won’ an enemy to Bengals fans like Marvin Lewis became.

I’ll see myself out.

Who do I ‘want’ them to hire?

This is where I’m really torn. Bieniemy has a lot of potential and respect from the Chiefs and around the NFL, and he’s helped lead one of the best offenses we’ve seen in the history of the league. He also helped Alex Smith get off to a great start last year and was even an MVP candidate. He’s helped do the same with second-year start Patrick Mahomes, who looks to be on the verge of becoming the best quarterback in the NFL.

On another hand, he hasn’t called plays in Kansas City, and neither has Taylor in Los Angeles. Nearly every successful coaching hire is either an offensive or defensive coordinator that called plays for his previous team.

That wouldn’t be the case with Todd Monken, who’s directed one of the most explosive passing offenses in football with both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston under center in Tampa Bay. Imagine what he could do with a more stable quarterback in Andy Dalton and a pair of star receivers in A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, not to mention the untapped potential of John Ross, who could become what DeSean Jackson was in Tampa.

And while Monken doesn’t have NFL coaching experience, he was the head man at a Southern Miss program that was 0-12 the prior year before he took over. They then went 1-11, 3-9 and 9-5 in his final year before being named offensive coordinator of the Buccaneers.

I would lead toward Monken simply because he has some head-coaching experience, but I’d be perfectly happy with Bieniemy.

Who is the worst case scenario?

While some will point to Hue Jackson as the worst-case scenario, it is easy to forget he once went 8-8 with the Raiders with quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Carson Palmer coming out of retirement, they were one game away from making the playoffs. It wasn’t great, but it was a lot better than anything Vance Joseph did in Denver.

I think having Joseph and Jackson together would be disastrous, and I don’t believe Joseph was coming here to be the defensive coordinator. I do think, however, there wasa chance Joseph became the head coach with Jackson as his offensive coordinator.

To me, that was the worst-case scenario.

Anthony Cosenza

Who do I ‘think’ the Bengals are going to hire?

I’ll say Eric Bieniemy is their guy, for a couple of reasons. First of all, he’s a blend of a guy who is both a known commodity to Mike Brown, having played for the team in the 1990s, as well as being an outside hire. I think that the team is well-aware of the repercussions that would come with one of the inside hires, in terms of hits to ticket sales and the pocket books.

Second, Brown loves offense and passing the football. It’s why his quarterbacks and wide receivers are so well-paid and play out most of their careers with the team. Bieniemy could bring a new life to Andy Dalton, or he may opt for “his guy”, which would probably come in either the 2019 or 2020 draft. He could also find more uses for John Ross to take the stink off of that pick, which could save face for Brown.

Who do I ‘want’ them to hire?

I’d like to see them hire either Bieniemy or Todd Monken, I guess. Bieniemy for some of the reasons above, and Monken because of his offensive prowess. With Dalton, Ross, Tyler Boyd, A.J. Green, Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard to work with, Monken could re-create some of the explosiveness his unit showed off in Tampa Bay.

I’ve got a dark horse and fans will probably rake me over the coals for it, but Mike Munchak is another guy I wouldn’t mind, as he just lost out on the Broncos gig. The only reason I’d like it is because he is intimately familiar with the Steelers and how a successful, championship-caliber organization is run and is familiar with the AFC North. I think the Bengals need to be utterly obsessed with beating the Steelers every season and what better way to do so than by hiring one of their own (even if it takes hair-pulling guys to get back in line).

Who is the worst case scenario?

The worst-case scenario to me is Bill Lazor. Not only has he not been a head coach before (which is a knock on some of the other candidates), but his Bengals units were ranked No. 32 in 2017 and No. 26 this year, in terms of total yards per game. Injuries played into those numbers, but at least Vance Joseph and Hue Jackson have more upside, even if just a little. The only way a Lazor hire would work is if he is surrounded by all-star coordinators, like the above-mentioned guys.

Make sure to check out our tracker for live updates on the Bengals’ coaching search.