Zac Taylor will have a late start assembling his first Bengals coaching staff, but some key decisions are being made.
Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons, who interviewed for the job Taylor now has, will be retained, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Jack Del Rio is likely to interview for the defensive coordinator position, per Pelissero. The former Raiders and Jaguars head coach is believed to be the Bengals’ top DC choice, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
Del Rio has been connected to Cincinnati for multiple weeks. After being fired to clear Jon Gruden‘s way back to Oakland, Del Rio did not coach during the 2018 season. Cincinnati was interested in Dennis Allen, but New Orleans retained him. Longtime Packers DC Dom Capers is also on the Bengals’ radar.
Del Rio, 55, was either a head coach or defensive coordinator every season from 2002-17. Following his 2002 season as John Fox‘s DC in Carolina, Jacksonville hired Del Rio as HC. He caught on with Fox again as the Broncos’ DC from 2012-14 before the Raiders hired him in 2015. While his Broncos defenses (two top-five units) were better than his Raiders crews — 22nd, 20th and 20th in points allowed, respectively — Del Rio did guide the Silver and Black to their first playoff berth in 14 seasons.
The Bengals fired DC Teryl Austin in November. He is now with the Steelers. If Del Rio is hired, he will be the franchise’s third defensive coordinator in three seasons. Austin replaced Paul Guenther, the Raiders’ current DC, last year.
Taylor has already named Gruden’s most recent quarterbacks coach, Brian Callahan, as his offensive coordinator. Del Rio did not work with Callahan, who was a Gruden hire. Simmons will move into his 17th season with the Bengals. A Marvin Lewis appointee during his first offseason in Cincinnati, Simmons coached the Bengals’ special teams units in all 16 Lewis seasons.
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