The Bengals’ longest tenured coach by far, Darrin Simmons enters his 17th season with the team in 2019.
Simmons is widely respected across the league and has coached many successful Bengals specialists. The special teams units shouldn’t see any major changes this season, but there is one player who could have something to say about that.
- 1996: Kansas University (graduate assistant)
- 1997: University of Minnesota (assistant coach)
- 1998: Baltimore Ravens (assistant special teams coordinator/assistant strength and conditioning coach)
- 1999-2002: Carolina Panthers (assistant special teams coordinator/assistant strength and conditioning coach)
- 2003-present: Cincinnati Bengals (special teams coordinator)
Simmons was a punter at Dodge City Community College and later Kansas University. After finishing his playing career, Kansas head coach Glen Mason hired Simmons as a coach. When Mason left for the University of Minnesota, he brought Simmons along with him.
His college coaching career was short lived, as he took an coaching assistant job with the Baltimore Ravens in 1998. There, he worked with acclaimed special teams coach Scott O’Brien. He followed O’Brien to the Carolina Panthers the following season, working with him through 2002.
Simmons has been with the Bengals ever since, and has become a noted special teams coordinator in his own right. If not retained by the Bengals, he would have found another NFL coaching position with ease.
He has coached a number of highly successful players dating back to Shayne Graham who he brought in from Carolina after arriving in Cincinnati. However, he has faced some criticism in recent years. First, when the team chose Randy Bullock as their kicker over Jake Elliott. Then there was the Clayton Fejedelem fake punt debacle...
Not much is likely to change with the Bengals special teams units this year. They return their principle special teams players with Bullock, punter Kevin Huber, long snapper Clark Harris, and return specialist Alex Erickson.
Huber faces no competition currently. Bullock will be challenged by Tristan Vizcaino and Harris faces Dan Godsil who was signed just as camp started. Neither is expected to make a serious push though.
Erickson has been a very productive returner, but second-year defensive back Darius Phillips was a constant threat to take it to the house in college. It will be interesting to see if Phillips gets an opportunity this season.
The Bengals have added young defensive backs and linebackers like Phillips, Davontae Harris, Jordan Brown, Malik Jefferson, Germaine Pratt, and Deshaun Davis who could play a bigger role on special teams this season. In the past players like wide receiver Cody Core have been kept because of their role on special teams. It will be interesting to see the level of influence Simmons has on the roster under Zac Taylor.