Bengals Rumors

Bengals To Fire Offensive Line Coach

  • After Paul Alexander‘s 20-plus-year run as Bengals offensive line coach, the franchise will soon have three O-line instructors in three years. Frank Pollack is out after one season, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Pollack was previously the Cowboys’ O-line coach, and under his stewardship, the Bengals made the biggest single-season improvement in yards per carry in franchise history. Cincinnati rushers collectively averaged 4.69 yards per carry last season.

2019 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Tracker

While eight NFL teams are making a head coaching change this offseason, the number of clubs replacing offensive and/or defensive coordinators figures to be much higher than that. In addition to all those teams hiring new head coaches, who may want to bring in their own assistants, several clubs also figure to make changes on one side of the ball or the other after getting disappointing results in 2018. And, of course, the teams whose coordinators landed head coaching jobs will need to replace them.

With reports circulating on potential candidates, interview requests, and actual meetings, we’ll use the space below to keep tabs on all the latest updates on teams hiring new offensive and/or defensive coordinators. This post, which will be updated daily, can be found under the “PFR Features” menu on the right-hand side of the site.

[Updated: 1/16/19, 12:27pm CT]

Offensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Steve Sarkisian)

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Marty Mornhinweg)

  • Greg Roman, assistant head coach/tight ends (Ravens): Promoted

Cincinnati Bengals (Out: Bill Lazor)

Cleveland Browns (Out: Freddie Kitchens)

  • Todd Monken, former offensive coordinator (Buccaneers): Hired
    • Head coach Freddie Kitchens will call plays.
  • Jim Bob Cooter, former offensive coordinator (Lions): Interviewed

Denver Broncos (Out: Bill Musgrave)

Detroit Lions (Out: Jim Bob Cooter)

  • Nathaniel Hackett, former offensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Todd Monken, former offensive coordinator (Buccaneers): Interviewed
  • Steve Sarkisian, former offensive coordinator (Falcons): Mentioned as candidate

Green Bay Packers (Out: Joe Philbin)

  • Nathaniel Hackett, former offensive coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
    • Head coach Matt LaFleur will call plays.
  • Mike McDaniel, run game coordinator (49ers): Mentioned as candidate
  • Todd Monken, former offensive coordinator (Buccaneers): Interviewed

Jacksonville Jaguars (Out: Scott Milanovich)

Miami Dolphins (Out: Dowell Loggains)

Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets (Out: Jeremy Bates)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Todd Monken)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Matt LaFleur)

Defensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals (Out: Al Holcomb)

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Marquand Manuel)

Chicago Bears (Out: Vic Fangio)

Cincinnati Bengals (Out: Marvin Lewis)

Cleveland Browns (Out: Gregg Williams)

Denver Broncos (Out: Joe Woods)

  • Ed Donatell, secondary coach (Bears): Hired

Miami Dolphins (Out: Matt Burke)

New York Jets (Out: Kacy Rodgers)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Mark Duffner)

  • Todd Bowles, former head coach (Jets): Hired

Bengals Notes: Jackson, Bevell, McAdoo

  • Hue Jackson will not return to the Bengals‘ staff under presumptive new head coach Zac Taylor, Elise Jesse of WLWT was the first to report (via Twitter). Jackson, who is close friends with former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, was hired by Cincinnati at midseason, shortly after being fired as Cleveland’s head coach. Although he interviewed to succeed Lewis, Jackson was considered likely to leave the Bengals’ staff if he didn’t land the top job. While he could be in contention for offensive coordinator jobs, Jackson might have to spend 2019 as a position coach.
  • Former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is in consideration for the same role with the Bengals, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Bevell is reportedly “high on [Taylor’s] list” of possible OCs, as the rookie head coach is looking for someone with plenty of experience. The 49-year-old Bevell has interviewed for play-calling openings in both Jacksonville and Atlanta this year, but thus far hasn’t landed a job after being out of the NFL in 2018. Meanwhile, ex-Giants head coach Ben McAdoo — who recently met with the Cardinals — is a “name to watch” in Cincinnati, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link).
  • The Browns have interviewed Utah offensive line coach Jim Harding for the same position, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Harding, who was previously Utah’s co-offensive coordinator from 2015-15, is considered one of the best OL coaches at the collegiate level, per Pelissero. He interviewed with the Bengals in 2018 before Cincinnati hired Frank Pollack.

2019 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $2MM in 2019. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

Bears: RB Jordan Howard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

Broncos: G Connor McGovern, S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons

Browns: S Derrick Kindred, LB Joe Schobert

Buccaneers: G Caleb Benenoch, DE Carl Nassib, CB Ryan Smith

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown

Chiefs: CB Kendall Fuller, WR Tyreek Hill, S Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson

Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett, T Joe Haeg

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown, DT Maliek Collins, QB Dak Prescott

Dolphins: RB Kenyan Drake

Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, G Wes Schweitzer

Jaguars: DE Yannick Ngakoue

Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Rashard Robinson, T Brandon Shell

Lions: C Graham Glasgow

Packers: LB Kyler Fackrell, DE Dean Lowry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Antonio Morrison

Patriots: G Joe Thuney, LB Elandon Roberts

Rams: G Austin Blythe, TE Tyler Higbee

Ravens: DE Matt Judon, OL Alex Lewis, CB Tavon Young

Saints: DT David Onyemata

Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

Texans: DT D.J. Reader

Titans: S Kevin Byard, WR Tajae Sharpe

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. 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.

Bengals Likely To Hire Zac Taylor As HC

The Bengals’ “preferred choice” for head coach is Rams’ quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, according to Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Taylor, who interviewed for the position last week, can’t be hired until Los Angeles is eliminated from the postseason. The Rams are preparing for a divisional round game against the Cowboys, and could potentially be tied up into February if they reach the Super Bowl. But Cincinnati’s head coaching job is reportedly Taylor’s to lose, per the ESPN scribes. As of yet, the Bengals have not held any negotiations with Taylor, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Given that he’s only 35 years old, Taylor would mark a departure for the Bengals, who had relied on veteran coach Marvin Lewis since 2003. But Cincinnati’s entire coaching search, which involved interviewing numerous young offensive minds such as the Chiefs’ Eric Bieniemy and Taylor’s Rams colleague Shane Waldron, represented a stark change for the club.

Taylor has only called offensive plays at the NFL level for a half-season: in 2015, he was promoted to offensive coordinator in Miami after the Dolphins fired Bill Lazor (who coincidentally is currently the Bengals OC). The following year, Taylor spent time in the Queen City, serving as offensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati before joining the Rams as QBs coach in 2016.

Taylor’s decision to take the Rams’ job proved to be fortuitous, as Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay‘s disciples are quickly claiming head jobs around the NFL. Matt LaFleur, who served as the Rams’ OC in 2016, just landed the Packers’ head coaching gig. And other young coaches with offensive backgrounds (Kliff Kingsbury, Freddie Kitchens) also received HC jobs.

In Cincinnati, Taylor will be tasked with improving an offense that ranked just 19th in DVOA a season ago. Andy Dalton is likely locked in as the Bengals’ starting quarterback for at least one more season, but Cincinnati could draft another signal-caller for Taylor to develop. Elsewhere on offense, the Bengals have a solid set of weapons that includes wide receivers A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, plus running back Joe Mixon. 2017 first-round receiver John Ross, meanwhile, could represent something of a rehabilitation project for Taylor.

Reports earlier this evening indicated the Bengals were likely to hire an external candidate after interviewing a group of incumbent staffers that included Lazor, special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons, and special assistant Hue Jackson. Cincinnati also began dismissing some of its assistant coaches, which could be a sign Taylor has told the club which staffers he’d like to retain.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Plan To Hire External HC Candidate

The Bengals plan to hire an external candidate to fill their head coaching vacancy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Therefore, provided they don’t conduct any more interviews, the Bengals appear set to tap either Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, former Buccaneers OC Todd Monken, former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, Rams quarterbacks coach Zach Taylor, or Rams passing game coordinator/tight ends coach Shane Waldron as their next head coach.

[RELATED: 2019 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Given that they’ve yet to select a new head coach, Cincinnati is likely targeting an assistant who is still coaching in the postseason. That would rule out Monken and Joseph, but Bieniemy, Taylor, and Waldron are each preparing for Divisional Round matchups with their respective teams. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, the speculation around the NFL has all signs pointing to Bieniemy, although that’s far from official.

The Bengals began dismissing members of their incumbent staff this morning, tweets Florio. All of Cincinnati’s assistants had one year remaining on their respective contracts, but whomever the Bengals have decided on for head coach has presumably told management which staffers he’d like to retain. Linebackers coach Jim Haslett, tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes, and running backs coach Kyle Caskey are among those who will not return in 2019, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Roughly half of the Bengals’ staff will be back next season, tweets Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Cincinnati interviewed a number of internal candidates as part of their head coaching search, including offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons, and special assistant Hue Jackson.

Only Three NFL Head Coaching Vacancies Remain

Eight NFL teams were in search of a head coach to start the New Year, but five clubs have already found their man. Let’s quickly run down the jobs that are off the table and check in on where things stand for the three remaining vacancies:

“No Vacancy”:

Arizona Cardinals

  • Kliff Kingsbury, offensive coordinator (USC): Hired

Cleveland Browns

  • Freddie Kitchens, offensive coordinator (Browns): Hired

Denver Broncos

  • Vic Fangio, defensive coordinator (Bears): Hired

Green Bay Packers

  • Matt LaFleur, offensive coordinator (Titans): Hired

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Bruce Arians, former head coach (Cardinals): Hired

Jobs Still Open:

Cincinnati Bengals

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

The Bengals, so far, have cast a wide net, but the recommendation of Marvin Lewis and the club’s history with Jackson could lead to the ex-Browns coach landing on his feet. They’re also considering another recently fired head coach in Joseph and the group lacks general star power, so Jackson’s chances cannot be dismissed.

The buzz is slowly building around Richard in Miami, even though he is not believed to be a serious candidate in New York. From a pure knowledge standpoint, Allen may be the best bet of the free agent bunch. Overall, the Dolphins’ top choice could be Harbaugh, but he won’t be an option for them if he signs an extension with the Ravens. Even if he doesn’t, the Dolphins might not want to part with significant draft capital and shell out big bucks to land him.

The Jets never really had a chance at Kliff Kingsbury, but Jets fans probably won’t lose sleep over seeing the inexperienced young coach go to Arizona. What’s left is a mishmash of head coaching retreads (Caldwell, Gase, McCarthy), coordinators and assistants (Monken, Richard, Bieniemy), and one more college-to-pros candidate (Rhule). Some believe that Rhule, the head coach at Baylor, is the Jets’ No. 1 target.

The list above, derived from the 2019 Head Coaching Search Tracker, was edited to omit candidates that are no longer in consideration or have taken jobs elsewhere.

2019 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Several NFL teams are currently hunting for a new head coach, and amidst reports about interview requests and potential candidates, it’s easy to lose track of the latest updates in the shuffle. So we’ll use this space – which will be updated until every team has hired a new head coach – to keep track of the most recent news and rumors. It can be found on the right-hand sidebar under “PFR Features.”

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’s the current breakdown:

[Updated: 1/11/19, 4:55pm CT]

Arizona Cardinals

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bengals Likely To Expand HC Search

The Bengals have already interviewed eight candidates (and attempted to meet with a ninth) for their head coaching position, but their search could expand in the coming days, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). Cincinnati has interest in assistants who were coaching during Wild Card weekend, but preferred not to disturb those coaches in advance of such critical games. While no new names have yet surfaced, potential candidates who coached this weekend Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard, Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.