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Bengals 2018 season awards: Coach of the Year

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Even though many of the Bengals coaches have been given their walking papers this offseason, there were some who were bright spots last year.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Training Camp Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NE

The Bengals are in the midst of a staff overhaul, which many believe was long overdue. Still, even over the past couple of offseasons, Marvin Lewis and Co. attempted overhauls of their own, making changes at offensive and defensive coordinator, as well as at the position coach level. Many of those hires didn’t end up working out, but others did play a role in improving certain areas of the team.

Many of the names on this list are no longer part of the staff, but they still brought value in 2018. Who gets your vote for the Bengals’ 2018 Coach of the Year?

Kyle Caskey, running backs coach: The young offensive assistant will not be back with the team in 2019, but he helped spearhead Joe Mixon’s first 1,000-yard rushing season. Giovani Bernard had a lower statistical year from a rushing standpoint, and Mark Walton’s impact was minimal as a rookie, but Caskey is still viewed as a valuable NFL assistant in many league circles.

Darrin Simmons, special teams coordinator: There were many issues with holding penalties on kick returns this year, but Alex Erickson was a near-Pro Bowl nominee this year as the No. 2 kickoff return man this season. Clayton Fejedelem also had a quality season, setting himself up for a Pro Bowl alternate designation.

Like many of the coaches on the roster, Simmons had to deal with a revolving door of young, unproven players needing to play in his unit because of a massive amount of injuries. Simmons is also so well-thought of in the organization that he interviewed for the open head coaching job, and appears to be one of the very few coaches who will be sticking around in 2019.

Marvin Lewis, defensive coordinator: No, you’re not reading that wrong. Lewis took over for Teryl Austin after 10 weeks in the season and the defense was improved.

Under Lewis Cincinnati never gave up more than 26 points in the remaining seven games (twice), whereas that was a total they eclipsed six times in nine games under Austin. Cincinnati’s defense also gave up an average of 361 yards per game under Lewis’ watch, while they let up over 488 yards per game under Austin.

Frank Pollack, offensive line coach: It was a surprise when the news hit that the Bengals weren’t keeping the grizzled veteran coach around in 2019. Pollack helped to turn around a deplorable 2017 Bengals offensive line to somewhat-respectable levels one year later.

Cordy Glenn played outstanding the first month of the season, while Billy Price, Trey Hopkins and Clint Boling all had spurts of quality play last season. As mentioned, Mixon had a 1,000-yard season, while the team was the 12th best in the NFL in terms of sacks allowed.

Bob Bicknell, wide receivers coach: Bicknell came in under Bill Lazor because of their previous connections and he had a couple of high-profile performances from the team’s top wideouts. A.J. Green was on pace for one of his best seasons as a pro before getting hurt, while Tyler Boyd notched his first career 1,000-yard receiving season.

It’s in the guys behind Boyd and Green that may mar some of Bicknell’s 2018 work. The reviews on John Ross’ progress in year two under Bicknell are mixed, as he didn’t show consistency, in terms of catches and yards, but he did get into the end zone seven times. However, Josh Malone, Cody Core and others didn’t step up with Boyd and Green out of the lineup towards the end of the year.

Robert Livingston, safeties coach: The two starting safeties had solid seasons for the Bengals, with Shawn Williams grabbing a team-leading five interceptions and rookie Jessie Bates III snagging three. They both returned a pick for a score in 2018, and were the two top tacklers on the season (Bates had 111, Williams had 110).

Bates was a Pro Football Focus darling most of the year, and also earned PFWA All-Rookie Team honors. Throw in some contributions from Clayton Fejedelem as a reserve guy and it was an impressive output from Livingston’s group.

Poll

Who gets your vote for the Bengals’ 2018 Coach of the Year?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Kyle Caskey, running backs coach
    (56 votes)
  • 8%
    Darrin Simmons, special teams coordinator
    (40 votes)
  • 14%
    Marvin Lewis, defensive coordinator
    (67 votes)
  • 28%
    Frank Pollack, offensive line coach
    (134 votes)
  • 1%
    Bob Bicknell, wide receivers coach
    (8 votes)
  • 30%
    Robert Livingston, safeties coach
    (148 votes)
  • 5%
    Other
    (25 votes)
478 votes total Vote Now