Bengals Rumors

2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Exiting the regular season, six teams are searching for new head coaches. That number is up from last season but not quite as high as 2019, though there may well be more vacancies that emerge during the playoffs.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-15-21 (4:13pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

2021 NFL Draft Order

Wild Card weekend is in the books and 75% of the NFL’s 2021 Draft order has been set. Here’s the rundown, thus far:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets (via Seahawks)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Coaching Notes: Quinn, Staley, Chargers, Pollack, Bengals, Simmons, Whitt, Cowboys

Hope you’re all enjoying Sunday’s three-game wild card slate, here are a new batch of coaching updates to pass along:

  • Dan Quinn’s star faded fast after taking the Falcons to the Super Bowl just a few years ago, and he was fired after starting 0-5 this season. His national reputation took a hit, but he’s apparently still fairly highly regarded in league circles and might not be out of a job too long. Quinn’s name is popping up frequently as a potential defensive coordinator for coaches interviewing for head coaching gigs, Peter Schrager of NFL Network is told (Twitter link). Quinn, of course, rose to prominence as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator for a couple years during their dominant ‘Legion of Boom’ era, and won Super Bowl XLVIII with Seattle. His defenses were never anything special during his time in Atlanta though, and it was Kyle Shanahan’s offense carrying the team during the peak of their success.
  • Speaking of defensive minds, Rams DC Brandon Staley is turning into a hot name this cycle, and after his defense just dominated Russell Wilson it’s not hard to see why. The Chargers are one of the teams interested, and he’ll interview with them today, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. But interestingly, Breer writes that if Los Angeles doesn’t hire an offensive mind, the new coach will “have to have a very detailed plan for that side of the ball and the quarterback.” 49ers DC Robert Saleh is also in contention for this job, so that would obviously apply to him as well. Clearly, the Chargers want a bright offensive mind to pair with Justin Herbert. We’ve heard Herbert loves current offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, but Breer’s tweet certainly doesn’t make it sound like he’s all that likely to return.
  • Zac Taylor survived for another year, but the Bengals fired a few assistant coaches this week. Now, they’ve found one of the replacements. Cincy has hired Frank Pollack to be their new offensive line coach and run game coordinator, the team announced. Pollack spent the past two seasons as the Jets’ offensive line coach, and had the same role with the Bengals in 2018 under Marvin Lewis. Before that he was he Cowboys’ O-line coach, and obviously those units had a great deal of success. For what it’s worth, Bengals players are “thrilled” with the hire, Jay Morrison of The Athletic writes. “It’s exciting,” center Billy Price said. “I’m glad to have him back. I’m really, really, really, really glad to have him back.” Running back Joe Mixon also said he was “super excited” to have Pollack back in the fold.
  • The Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan earlier this week, and the search for his replacement is in full swing. Dallas interviewed Jason Simmons and Joe Whitt Jr. today for the position, a source told Calvin Watkins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Simmons is currently the passing game coordinator for the Panthers, while Whitt is the passing game coordinator for the Falcons. Both candidates have plenty of familiarity with Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy. Whitt was on Green Bay’s defensive staff from 2008-18, rising the ranks from quality control coach, while Simmons started with the Packers in 2015 as an assistant special teams coach. Neither has been a DC before.

Joe Burrow Expects To Be Ready For Week 1 Of 2021 Season

The Bengals ended the 2020 campaign on a sour note, a 38-3 blowout loss to the division-rival Ravens. Despite the defeat and the team’s 4-11-1 record, there were some bright spots, most notably the performance of rookie signal-caller Joe Burrow.

Burrow suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Cincinnati’s Week 11 loss to Washington, and he also sustained damage to his meniscus and PCL. Despite the gravity of the injury, Burrow expects to be ready for Week 1 of the 2021 season, as Ben Baby of ESPN.com details.

Speaking to the media for the first time since the injury, Burrow — who underwent surgery on December 2 — says he is past the worst part of his rehab. When asked about his prospects for the start of next season, the 24-year-old passer said, “I think I’ll be ready. I think it’ll be just fine.”

That’s obviously good news for Bengals fans, who are hoping their club can return to competitiveness in a talented AFC North. Reports from November indicated that Burrow was expected to return to action “right around” the start of the 2021 season, but given the extensiveness of the knee damage, there will continue to be concern about Burrow’s availability until he puts on the pads.

With a healthy Burrow in the fold, there is reason for optimism in the Queen City. The former LSU standout, along with RB Joe Mixon and wideouts Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, represent a strong core of skill-position talent, and full seasons from defensive players like D.J. Reader and Trae Waynes would also be a big help. There is still plenty of work to do along the offensive line and in the front seven, but there is at least a foundation to build upon.

There were some rumors that head coach Zac Taylor may not be given the chance to return for a third year at the helm, but team president Mike Brown quickly put an end to those rumblings earlier this week. Burrow, for one, is happy to see his HC return.

“I think Zac is going to be a great coach for a long time,” he said. “I’m happy to be in the position that I’m in and to help build this organization, but it’s going to be on Zac’s back. He’s the leader of what we’re trying to do, and he’s awesome.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Fire Three Assistants

  • Following a 2020 season where the organization finished with only four wins, the Bengals have moved on from three assistants, according to ESPN’s Ben Baby (via Twitter). Jim Turner, Nick Eason, and Gerald Chatman will not return in 2021. However, Baby notes that the Bengals defense showed flashes this past season, meaning Eason and Chatman could end up landing new gigs relatively quickly.

2021 NFL Draft Order

The 2020 regular season is in the books. For more than half of the NFL, that means the offseason is officially underway.

The league’s 18 non-playoff teams now know where they stand in the 2021 NFL Draft order. For the remaining clubs, the playoffs will help determine their position. Here’s the rundown of the 2021 NFL Draft order, thus far:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinatti Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins

Bengals To Keep Zac Taylor 

The Bengals will bring back Zac Taylor. On Monday, team president Mike Brown announced that the head coach will get a third season at the helm.

Our fans wanted a fresh new direction two years ago, and that is what we aimed to do in hiring a bright, energetic head coach in Zac Taylor,” Brown said in a statement. “We remain bullish on the foundation Zac is building, and we look forward to next year giving our fans the winning results we all want. In Zac’s two years, we have added many new starters and contributors through the draft, we have invested heavily in free agency, and we have acquired a talented young quarterback with a bright future.”

This season we faced challenges with injuries at key positions and missed opportunities. I am proud of our football team for fighting hard through adversity. That adversity and hard work will help us next season. We’ll enter the offseason looking to shore up our weaknesses and amplify the strengths of our talented young core. We are not discouraged, but instead feel motivated and confident that next year will reap the benefits of the work that has been done to date. We must capitalize on the opportunities in front of us. Next year we will earn our stripes.”

Taylor hasn’t had an easy two years in Cincinnati, but there was some encouraging progress in 2020. Despite closing out the year 4-11-1 with a lopsided loss to the Ravens, rookie Joe Burrow looked sharp before his season-ending injury. It’s also worth noting that they’ve been plagued by injuries across the board. On offense, they lost running back Joe Mixon and left tackle Jonah Williams. And, on the other side of the ball, defensive tackle D.J. Reader and cornerback Trae Waynes finished the year on IR.

The Bengals won’t be seeking a new head coach, but plenty of clubs will be. As of this writing, the vacancy list includes the Lions, Falcons, Texans, Jets, Jaguars, and Chargers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Zac Taylor Not Necessarily Safe?

The Bengals had some momentum with two straight upset victories the past two weeks, and the Ravens promptly vanquished that with a blowout win on Sunday. We had heard a few weeks ago that head coach Zac Taylor was likely to return for a third season, but that’s apparently not set in stone. 

Taylor “may not be as safe as some believe,” Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes. Florio adds “there’s a rumor making that rounds that Taylor could be out.” As for what Cincy could be plotting, Florio highlights the potential reunion between Joe Burrow and his college passing guru Joe Brady, who is now the OC in Carolina. Florio think that the Bengals could be spurred to make the plunge if they fear another team will hire Brady this cycle.

Taylor is now 6-25-1 in his first two seasons as coach, and while circumstances obviously haven’t been ideal it’s still hard to defend that record. Cincinnati went after him due to his association with Sean McVay after he spent a couple years on the Rams’ staff as an assistant. The 37-year-old had never been a head coach at any level before getting hired to replace Marvin Lewis.

As Florio points out, one thing working in Taylor’s favor is Bengals brass’ usual conservative nature when it comes to firing coaches. After all, they did keep Lewis around for 16 seasons, and the fact that he’d likely have millions coming his way could be what saves Taylor for another year. If he does stick around, he’ll need a major leap from Burrow and the rest of the team to buy him a fourth season.

Of course, there’s no guarantee Burrow is ready for Week 1 next year after tearing his ACL and damaging other ligaments, so it could be a tough job for whoever is roaming the sidelines in 2021. We should know more about Taylor’s status tomorrow.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/2/21

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

  • Signed off Jets’ practice squad: G Blake Hance
  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: S Karl Joseph
  • Promoted: G Cordell Iwuagwu, LB Montrel Meander, T Alex Taylor

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Promoted: DB John Brannon

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

This Date In Transactions History: Bengals Sign HC Marvin Lewis To Two-Year Extension

On this date in 2018, Cincinnati fans weren’t too high on Marvin Lewis. The Bengals head coach had just missed the postseason for the second-straight season, but it’s not like anyone would have had much faith in the team had they found a way to sneak into the playoffs. After all, Lewis had (and still has) his infamous 0-7 playoff record, with the head coach guiding the organization to first-round exits every year between the 2011 and 2015 campaigns.

So, with the team having only won 13 combined games between the 2016 and 2017 seasons, it only seemed natural to move on from Lewis, right? Nah. Instead, on January 2nd, 2018, the Bengals signed Lewis to a two-year extension that would last through the 2019 campaign. As an aside, Lewis had traditionally inked one-year extensions with the organization, so the two-year pact was met with plenty of ire.

A Bleacher Report article said the extension was a “commitment to mediocrity,” while Will Brinson of CBS Sports described the move as “stunning.” If you want a take on fan reactions, you can check out the comments section of our own article.

Lewis and the organization didn’t do much to calm fans’ nerves when discussing the extension. The coach acknowledged that he probably would have been fired in any other city (per USA Today), while Bengals President Mike Brown admitted that the team had recently “fallen short of our expectations.”

“My job is to win a World Championship,” Lewis said in a statement that day. “We have a talented roster full of veteran leaders and emerging young stars, and I am committed to making the necessary improvements to put this team in the best position to win.”

Critics of the extension were punching air through the five weeks of the 2018 season. With Lewis serving as the second longest-tenured head coach in the NFL (behind Bill Belichick), the Bengals held the top spot in the AFC North with a 4-1 record, and they entered their bye week at 5-3. Then the wheels fell off. The Bengals dropped five consecutive contests and finished the season with a 6-10 record. Raise your hand if you know what happened next. The Bengals and Lewis decided to mutually part ways with a year remaining on the coach’s contract.

Cincinnati bottomed out in 2019 with new head coach Zac Taylor at the helm, allowing them to snag Joe Burrow with the top pick. Lewis hasn’t really committed to returning to the NFL, but he’s still been connected to a number of openings. Over the past few years, Lewis has been linked to head coaching gigs in Washington and Dallas, and he interviewed for the lead position with the Texans in late December. The 62-year-old has been on the Arizona State coaching staff for the past two seasons.

When the extensions was signed three years ago today, Lewis and the Bengals organization probably weren’t envisioning their present-day status. Everyone else? I think we all saw this coming.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.