It wasn’t a banner year for the Cincinnati Bengals in many respects, as the team barely bettered their 2016 record. Many of the main coaches on the staff came under rightful fire, but there were others who brought the players they oversaw to prominence in the wake of so many team issues.
Cast your vote for the Bengals’ 2017 coach of the year and sound off on your winner!
Jonathan Hayes, tight ends coach: When your Pro Bowl tight end goes down with yet another series of injuries, it puts any coach in a tough position. Cincinnati hasn’t always highly-valued tight ends, but Hayes did get two Pro Bowls out out Jermaine Gresham and another out of Tyler Eifert.
After Eifert went on Injured Reserve, Hayes had to get both Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah to step up for the offense. Kroft was extremely reliable, as evidenced by his seven touchdown grabs on 42 total catches.
Kyle Caskey, running backs coach: Yes, the Bengals’ rushing attack was one of the worst in the league, and yes, Caskey had three second round picks at running back to work with, but consider what he had to endure in 2017.
Both the offensive line and Jeremy Hill were ineffective, while he and Joe Mixon were unavailable at points toward the end of the year. Throw in a change at offensive coordinator after a couple of games and it’s a wonder Caskey was able to mine out what he did from Mixon and Giovani Bernard.
Jacob Burney, defensive line coach: Cincinnati wasn’t good against the run this year, but they were able to get to the passer frequently. Using different looks and personnel, the line was much better as pressuring quarterbacks than it was in 2016.
The biggest feathers in Burney’s cap have to be with Michael Johnson’s resurgence in an inside pass-rushing niche, as well as in Carl Lawson’s bid for Rookie of the Year. The fourth round pick had 8.5 sacks, good for second-best on the club.
Darrin Simmons, special teams: One of the major pillars of the Bengals, thanks to Marvin Lewis’ emphasis on the phase, is in sound special teams. Cincinnati did let up a punt return for a touchdown, but many other players had outstanding years for the unit.
Randy Bullock was 90 percent on his field goal attempts (18-of-20), as well as 31-of-33 on extra points. Meanwhile, Kevin Huber had some of his best career statistics in punt yards, net yards, kicks downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and fair catches.
Who gets your vote for the Bengals’ 2017 Coach of the Year?
This poll is closed
Jonathan Hayes, tight ends
Kyle Caskey, running backs
Jacob Burney, defensive line
Darrin Simmons, special teams