Bill Lazor

Bears Hire Bill Lazor As OC

The Bears fired offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich at the end of the 2019 season, and they have now filled their vacancy. Chicago has hired former Dolphins and Bengals OC Bill Lazor to replace Helfrich, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

Lazor, 47, was hired as Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach in 2016 but ended up taking over as the team’s play-caller three games into the 2017 campaign. In 2018, his first full season as the Bengals’ OC, Lazor led a unit which ranked 17th in points, 19th in DVOA (efficiency), and 26th in yardage. In his first year as Miami’s OC, 2014, the ‘Fins finished 8th in DVOA, but they plummeted to 22nd the following year and Lazor was given the boot.

Part of Lazor’s responsibilities in Chicago will include getting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky back on track — assuming the Bears stick with Trubisky as their starter — and helping fix an offense that finished the 2019 season 29th in total offense, 31st in yards per play, and 29th in scoring. Head coach Matt Nagy, though, will retain play-calling duties.

Per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears were interested in Pat Shurmur for their OC job, but Shurmur was recently hired by the Broncos, for whom he will call offensive plays. The presence of Nagy as play-caller and Trubisky under center could be a deterrent for the upper echelon of OC candidates, which may be why the team had to opt for a second-tier choice in Lazor.

Lazor was out of the league in 2019, though he did interview for the Redskins’ quarterbacks coach job last January.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Interview Ex-Bengals OC Bill Lazor

The Redskins interviewed former Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor for their vacant quarterbacks coach position on Tuesday, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link).

Washington made a notable change to its offensive staff earlier this week, promoting Kevin O’Connell from QBs coach to offensive coordinator while demoting former OC Matt Cavanaugh to an offensive assistant role. O’Connell’s promotion was reportedly set in motion after rival clubs expressed interest in bringing him aboard, but the Redskins now need someone to fill his old role.

Lazor, 46, was hired as Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach in 2016 but ended up taking over as the team’s play-caller three games into the 2017 campaign. In 2018, his first full season as the Bengals’ OC, Lazor led a unit which ranked 17th in points, 19th in DVOA (efficiency), and 26th in yardage. Lazor previously worked for the Redskins from 2004-07 and held the quarterbacks coach title for the final two years of that run.

At present, it’s unclear exactly who Lazor would be coaching if he were hired in Washington. Recent reports have indicated the Redskins expect Alex Smith to miss the entirety of the 2019 season while recovering from a brutal leg injury, while Josh Johnson and Mark Sanchez are pending free agents. Longtime backup Colt McCoy remains on roster, but Washington will likely add multiple additional signal-callers over the coming months.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Coaching Notes: Bengals, Browns, Broncos

When the Rams’ postseason run comes to a close, the Bengals are expected to offer quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor their head coaching position. With the expected move, Cincinnati cleaned house on Friday, dismissing the previous staff of Marvin Lewis, including offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, ESPN’s Katherine Terrell writes. Among the other assistants let go include running backs coach Kyle Caskey and tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes.

This move, of course, is not unexpected. Most head coaches will bring in their own guys and Taylor — or whoever ends up with the job — is no exception.

A longtime NFL assistant, Lazor began his tenure with the Falcons as an offensive quality control coach in 2003 before moving to the Redskins as an offensive assistant in 2004. After a handful of other jobs, including a stint in the college ranks with Virginia, Lazor landed the offensive coordinator role with the Dolphins in 2014. After serving there two seasons, he joined the Bengals as quarterbacks coach in 2016 and was promoted to offensive coordinator the following season. In two seasons running the show in Cincinnati, Lazor ranked in the bottom 10 in yards and bottom half in points both seasons.

Here’s more from the AFC’s coaching carousel:

  • Sticking in the AFC North, Browns new head coach Freddie Kitchens cleaned house after getting the job. Once person he didn’t let go, however, was Ryan Lindley, who will serve as his quarterbacks coach next season, AZCardinals.com’s Mike Jurecki tweets. Lindley, who played in the NFL from 2012-15 as a quarterback, served as the Browns running backs coach in 2018.
  • Also with the Browns, the team added former Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer as its special teams coordinator, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero [Twitter link]. Priefer filled the same role in Minnesota from 2011-18, but declined to re-sign with the team after his contract expired after this past season. Priefer was born in Cleveland and coached two seasons at nearby Youngstown State in the 1990s.
  • New Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is bringing back special teams coordinator Tom McMahon, News9 in Denver’s Mike Klis tweets. McMahon concluded his 12th season in the NFL this past season, his first as special teams coordinator with the Broncos. He previously held the same position with the Colts, Chiefs and Rams.

Latest On Bengals’ Coaching Search

The first Bengals coaching search since 2003 looked to be centered around members of two organizations — the Bengals and Rams.

While Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor received an interview request, so did Los Angeles’ passing-game coordinator, Shane Waldron, Sean McVay said Monday. Waldron, 39, also serves as the Rams’ tight ends coach.

Cincinnati will also interview two of its own. OC Bill Lazor and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons will interview for Marvin Lewis’ old job on Tuesday, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

Mike Brown went outside the organization when he hired Lewis 15 years ago, but this is known as one of the more continuity-based franchises in the NFL. Still, it would be interesting to see a Lewis lieutenant get the job. Former Bengals DBs coach Vance Joseph, fired by the Broncos this morning, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.

Lazor became the Bengals’ full-time OC this season. Simmons has spent the entire Lewis era on the Bengals’ staff, coaching Cincinnati’s special teams units for the past 16 seasons. Though special teams coaches rarely commandeer HC jobs, Simmons is believed to have a good shot at this job, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

Bill Lazor To Return As Bengals’ OC

Bill Lazor will return as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator in 2018. On Wednesday, the Bengals announced that they have signed Lazor to an extension, though they did not specify the length of the deal. Prior to the accord, Lazor was slated to be out of contract this offseason. Bill Lazor (vertical)

We have a lot of talent on this roster and I am excited for the opportunity to build the high-powered offense we have the potential to be. This offseason will give us the chance to continue the success we had at the end of the year as we develop into a dynamic offense in 2018,” Lazor said in a statement.

Lazor took over as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator in September after the team failed to score a touchdown in the first two games under Ken Zampese. The Bengals didn’t necessarily set the world on fire with Lazor in command either as they finished dead last in total offense. On the plus side, his unit did occasionally show promise, including two high-scoring wins over the Lions and Ravens in the final games of the season.

The Bengals will have both head coach Marvin Lewis and Lazor on the sidelines this year, but they are in search of a new defensive coordinator following Paul Guenther‘s departure.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Rams, Shanahan, Raiders

In January, the Rams had planned to interview Kyle Shanahan for their coaching vacancy, but a snowstorm on the East Coast put the powwow on hold, as Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com writes. Days later, the team 86’d the meeting altogether as they pivoted eventual hire Sean McVay.

They told me if I didn’t sit down, they might end up having to move on,” Shanahan said, “and I was definitely OK with that. I think it worked out for both parties.”

On Thursday night, the Rams will get a glimpse at what might have been when they take on San Francisco at Levi’s Stadium. Of course, the Rams are very high on McVay – who is the league’s youngest coach – so they have no cause for regret at this time.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Donald Penn’s new two-year, $21MM extension with the Raiders will not give him a raise from the $6.4MM he was due in 2017, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. However, he did get a $3MM guarantee in 2018 in exchange for signing on for two more years. In 2019, he’s slated to earn a non-guaranteed $6MM, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets. As previously reported, he could get guarantees that extend into the 2019 season based on how well he plays in 2017.
  • Based on his history, it’s likely that Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will look to move the offense quicker with more of a dink-and-dunk approach, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com opines (Twitter link). It remains to be seen what the running back rotation will be like. To date, Joe Mixon and Jeremy Hill have not had a lot of carries while Giovani Bernard has drawn the lion’s share of the work. That could change now that Ken Zampese is out and Lazor is calling the plays.
  • On Tuesday, the Panthers, Bears, Cowboys, Packers, Jaguars, Chiefs, Dolphins, Jets, 49ers, and Bucs all conducted workouts. 

Bengals To Fire OC Ken Zampese

The Bengals will fire offensive coordinator Ken Zampese, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Bengals have not scored a touchdown in the first two games of the season and they are hoping a sideline shakeup will give them a jump start. For now, quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor will assume offensive coordinator responsibilities, the team announced.Ken Zampese (vertical)

Head coach Marvin Lewis didn’t exactly offer up support for Zampese after Thursday night’s loss to the Texans.

We have to get better but I’m never going to come in here and tell you anything we’re going to do with one another,” Lewis said when asked about potential staff changes (via Cincinnati.com). “What we do is private to us.”

Zampese was promoted to offensive coordinator last year after Hue Jackson left for the Browns’ head coaching job. Last year, the Bengals finished 13th in total offense under his guidance, but 24th in scoring. His offense left the red zone without a touchdown on nearly half of its red zone tries in 2016 and this year has been even worse. The Bengals are 0-for-6 for TDs in the red zone thus far and that’s a big reason for their 0-2 start.

On paper, the Bengals were poised to have one of the better offenses in the NFL with a competent QB in Andy Dalton, a megastar receiver in A.J. Green, a quality tight end in Tyler Eifert, and an intriguing mix of backfield weapons including Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, and rookie Joe Mixon. The Bengals hope that another OC will be able to get the most out of what they have.

If the former Dolphins OC can’t get the offense going, then Zampese might not be the only coach bounced in Cincinnati this season. After 15 years at the helm, this just might be Marvin Lewis‘ last stand.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Tannehill, Patriots, Kap

Ryan Tannehill asked former Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor for more audible latitude last season prior to Lazor’s dismissal, but the then-OC dismissed the notion, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

In Adam Gase, Tannehill will find a more innovative offensive coach, at least judging by his 2010s work in Denver and Chicago, but may not enjoy the kind of freedom he covets, Jackson notes. Gase’s work with Peyton Manning in 2013-14 notwithstanding, the Bears, per CSNChicago.com, were not an audible-heavy team under his direction last season, even as Jay Cutler progressed.

I’m going to speak for Ryan right now, which I typically don’t do,” Greg Jennings told Finsiders.com. “He wants some more freedom. … He’s been hand-held his entire career.”

Here’s the latest from the NFL’s Eastern divisions on Day 1 of the offseason.

  • Jennings is no lock to be employed by the Dolphins next season after he caught just 19 passes for 208 yards — both well below his previous career-low marks. The 32-year-old wideout’s entering the second season of a two-year, $8MM contract, and the Dolphins, per Pro Football Talk (via Jackson), haven’t told him he’ll be back. Jennings is due to occupy a $5.5MM cap number for the currently over-the-cap Fins, who can save $4MM by cutting the backup target. Jennings is currently Miami’s highest-paid receiver.
  • The Patriots are in discussions with retired coach Dante Scarnecchia about a return to the coaching staff to fix their ailing offensive line, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Scarnecchia retired after the 2013 season but he has remained around the Pats, particularly to help with evaluating offensive line prospects in the draft. One source told Reiss that it would be a surprise if the coach wasn’t back on the sidelines for the Pats in 2016. Scarnecchia had retired after 32 seasons in the NFL, 30 of which came in New England.
  • There has been a lot of debate as to whether the Jets should pursue 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and, over the weekend, Hall of Famer Joe Namath weighed in. “I think he should consider that a little more,” Namath told ESPN radio (via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News) when asked about Brandon Marshall‘s opposition to the idea. “I know that [Ryan] Fitzpatrick did a wonderful job this year. Whenever I’m asked to critique what I’ve seen and what I feel, I know that he would like to throw the ball more accurately given the chance. You need more than one quarterback on a team. If Kaepernick were available, I’d certainly consider bringing him in, yes.
  • During an appearance on the Fox News show Fox & Friends, Tom Coughlin reiterated he has no plans to retire, via Tom Rock of Newsday. “I’m not. … I don’t like that word, you know, the retired word,” Coughlin said. “I’m way too young for that, you know what I mean?” Coughlin will also discuss a potential advisory role with the Giants with John Mara soon, Rock reports. Coughlin’s coached in the NFL for 20 of the past 21 seasons, eight with the Jaguars before sitting out 2003.

Zach Links contributed to this report

AFC Coaching Rumors: Bengals, Titans, Colts

Recently fired Dolphins coordinators Bill Lazor and Kevin Coyle will reunite with the Bengals, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Although the two former Miami game-planners will head to Cincinnati, they will do so with lesser responsibility. Lazor will coach the Bengals’ quarterbacks, while Coyle will preside over Cincinnati’s secondary.

The Bengals also hired Jacob Burney to coach their defensive line, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (on Twitter).

Lazor’s first coordinator work lasted barely 1 1/2 seasons, with the Dolphins firing the 43-year-old offensive coach Nov. 30. He previously coached quarterbacks for Washington, the Seahawks and the Eagles before ascending to the top offensive perch in Miami.

Coyle returns to his longest-tenured position. He coached the Bengals’ DBs from 2003-11 before leaving to become the Dolphins’ DC under Joe Philbin. The Dolphins fired Coyle in October.

Burney’s coached defensive lines with the Broncos, Browns, Panthers, Ravens and Washington, with his most recent stint coming as Washington’s defensive line coach from 2010-14. Washington did not retain him after the 2014 season.

  • Brian Schottenheimer will replace Clyde Christensen as the Colts’ quarterbacks coach, according to a release on the team’s website. Schottenheimer served as an offensive coordinator for the Jets and Rams from 2006-14 before the Rams fired him prior to the 2015 slate. A longtime Colts QBs coach, Christensen accepted the Dolphins’ OC job on Saturday.
  • Bob Bolstad will be looking for work after the Titans, per Jenna Laine of Sports Talk 1040 The Team (on Twitter), don’t have intentions of offering their defensive line coach another contract. Russ Grimm and Pat Flaherty are finalists for the job, according to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports (Twitter link). Grimm had lengthy stints as the offensive line coach in three places — Washington, Pittsburgh and Arizona — from 1997-2012. Flaherty served on Tom Coughlin’s staff since 2004, signing on to be the Giants’ offensive line coach after Coughlin took over. Big Blue will not retain his services, however, according to James Kratch of NJ.com.

Breer’s Latest: Dolphins, Gronk, Cowboys, Texans

Dan Campbell‘s decision to jettison both his coordinators, with OC Bill Lazor being the second to go, as an interim coach likely stemmed from the tough-minded instructor’s dismay at the Dolphins being referred to as a “finesse team in a power division,” Albert Breer of NFL.com reports.

Miami ranks 27th in rushing yards per game but sixth in yards per carry at 4.6 and attempted just 23 combined runs the past two games. This led to a sense that Lazor was losing his players, per Breer.

Lazor and Ryan Tannehill began to have a less-than-ideal QB-OC relationship, and Breer now notes Campbell will take a more involved role in the Fins’ offensive approach. So, Lamar Miller will probably see more touches going forward.

Here are some more notes from the veteran NFL scribe.

  • Rob Gronkowski‘s league-high five offensive-pass interference penalties stem from teams alerting officials to the Patriots‘ brand of pick routes against an increasing amount of man coverage, with Gronk’s size making separation at route stems noticeable. Defensive coordinators are torn on the degree of the All-Pro tight end’s level of infraction, with one saying “He pushes off on every play” and another categorizing the physical performer’s penalties as a product of his size. “It just looks extreme with him, because of size and strength. A 180-pound dude pushing off is different [than] a 260-pound dude pushing off,” the anonymous DC told Breer. Another coordinator falls in the middle of these characterizations, noting the Patriots’ volume of pick routes makes it logical they should be on the receiving end of the most OPI flags.
  • With Tony Romo set for his age-36 season in 2016 and coming off more severe collarbone trouble, the Cowboys will explore taking a quarterback in the first round and signing a veteran, Breer reports. Romo being the starter for the foreseeable future gives the Cowboys some flexibility here by not having to reach for a player they don’t think can take the reins.
  • The Los Angeles relocation project continues to point toward the Chargers and Rams, with Breer noting Dean Spanos carries the political capital in the owners’ eyes and Stan Kroenke possessing the finances to make this transition work.
  • Bill O’Brien‘s cultivating a reputation as a players’ coach in leading the Texans, permitting open social media use and organizing a 12-player leadership council, Breer notes. Houston’s now tied for first in the AFC South with Indianapolis, but as far back as the Texans’ blowout loss in Miami in late October, players were behind O’Brien. “He’s not the problem. Very cool coach to play for and everyone enjoys the way he treats us,” one Texan told Breer after that 44-26 defeat.
  • In projecting franchise tag figures for next year, Breer also gives predictions of players potentially being tagged. Moving past long-rumored names like Von Miller and Muhammad Wilkerson, NFL executives told Breer players like Josh Norman, Janoris Jenkins, Russell Okung, Mike Daniels and Kirk Cousins are tag candidates.