Jonathan Hayes

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 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.