Ken Zampese

Browns Hire Ken Zampese

The Browns have hired former Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese, but he will not be Cleveland’s OC. Zampese has been brought in as the team’s new quarterbacks coach, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes. Ken Zampese (vertical)

In one sense, it’s a step back for the coach who served as the Bengals’ OC up until his firing in September. However, the Browns are likely to use the No. 1 overall pick on a QB, so Zampese will have the opportunity to groom a talented young signal caller

A strong rookie season from the No. 1 overall pick (perhaps Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen) could put Zampese back in line for OC jobs next year. Sean Ryan, the Texans’ QBs coach, can attest to that. He’s in the running for the Browns OC position after guiding Deshaun Watson to a spectacular, though injury-shortened, year.

Prior to becoming the Bengals’ OC in 2016, Zampese spent 12 seasons as the team’s QBs coach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Chiefs, Packers, Bengals

The Chiefs could promote running backs coach Eric Bieniemy to offensive coordinator, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com hears (on Twitter). Rapoport adds that he has “the inside track.” The vacancy opened up this weekend when Matt Nagy agreed to become the next head coach of the Bears.

Here’s the latest coaching news from around the NFL:

  • Packers secondary coach Darren Perry interviewed for the team’s defensive coordinator position on Monday, according to Alex Marvez of The Sporting News (on Twitter). The interview was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was delayed due to the team’s front office reorganization.
  • Contrary to a previous report, former Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese was not interviewed by the Browns on Monday, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweets. When he does interview with the team, it will be for an offensive assistant job and not necessarily for the OC position.
  • The Raiders will officially ink contracts with offensive coordinator Greg Olson and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther before the big Jon Gruden press conference, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
  • The Bengals announced the signing of Bob Bicknell as the team’s new wide receivers coach. Bicknell, who has 25 years of professional and collegiate coaching experience, was Baylor University’s WRs coach in 2017. Meanwhile, defensive line coach Jacob Burney has been retained with a new two-year contract extension (Twitter link via Alex Marvez of The Sporting News).

Coaching Notes: Wilks, Bears, Chiefs, Cards

Steve Wilks has set up three interviews for this week. The Giants will receive the first opportunity to meet with the Panthers’ DC, with ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson reporting (on Twitter) Wilks will trek to New Jersey to meet with the Dave Gettleman-led group on Tuesday before flying to Arizona to meet with the Cardinals on Wednesday. Following those meetings, the Colts will host Wilks on Thursday, Mike Wells of ESPN.com tweets. These aren’t the only teams interested in securing a sitdown with Wilks. The Lions remain interested in doing so as well, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

The Giants will complete both Wilks’ and Eric Studesville‘s interviews by Wednesday, with the former Broncos running backs coach set for a Wednesday powwow, per ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan (Twitter link). This duo will mark the fifth and sixth interviews the Giants will have conducted. After these summits, Big Blue management could be ready to make a decision. With the Eagles still in the playoffs and no Jim Schwartz interview conducted, it could put the Giants to a decision: wait on Schwartz and risk losing some of these aforementioned candidates or hire one of them instead.

Here’s the latest from the coaching circuit.

  • A possible favorite has already emerged to replace Matt Nagy as the Chiefs‘ OC. Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy will be “strongly considered,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The 48-year-old Bienemy served as Colorado’s OC from 2011-12 and has coached the Chiefs’ running backs since Andy Reid‘s arrival in 2013. Bienemy could have a clearer path to this job with former K.C. OC Brad Childress planning to retire.
  • Nagy wants to retain Vic Fangio with the Bears, both Peter Schrager of NFL.com and the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs note (Twitter links). But Fangio has interest elsewhere — from the Bengals and Packers — and could opt to depart Chicago after being passed over for the HC job.
  • Chicago may also look to retain a few assistants who worked under John Fox. Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone is a candidate to stay under Nagy despite the new HC making his NFL name by working with QBs. The Bears respected Ragone’s work with Trubisky, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets, and adds Nagy and Ragone share an agent. Biggs tweets tight ends coach Frank Smith and defensive line coach Jay Rodgers are candidates to stay put as well.
  • The Browns‘ interviews with OC candidates Ken Zampese and Sean Ryan will take place this week. Rapoport reports (via Twitter) Zampese will receive the first meeting, which will occur today, with Ryan’s interview scheduled for Wednesday. A second-generation NFL assistant, Zampese spent the past 15 seasons with the Bengals before his second year as OC ended after just two games. A nine-year Giants staffer who is currently the Texans’ QBs coach, Ryan does not have any history with Hue Jackson like Zampese does.
  • Ron Rivera does not anticipate the Panthers making any staff changes beyond possibly replacing Wilks, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. This would mean OC Mike Shula is in line to return for a sixth season.
  • Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong‘s Cardinals interview is set for Monday in Atlanta, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. Armstrong is allowed to interview under NFL rules despite the Falcons winning in the wild-card round.

North Notes: Bears, Packers, Ravens, Browns

The Bears have concluded their head coaching interview with Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, the club announced today. Chicago is able to interview Edwards given that Minnesota secured a first-round playoff bye, and he’s one of seven candidates to be linked to the Bears’ vacancy. Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, and Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks are all being considered for the job alongside Edwards.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Incumbent cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt is considered the favorite to become the Packers‘ next defensive coordinator, reports Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Green Bay will start its DC search by interviewing three internal candidates: Whitt, safeties coach Darren Perry, and assistant head coach/linebackers Winston Moss. While all three coaches are currently under contract with the Packers, there’s no guarantee that any or all of them will return in 2018, as Demovsky writes in a separate piece. If Green Bay hires an outside candidate to replace Dom Capers, that new coach could aim to bring in his own assistants.
  • The Ravens will bring back offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinwheg in 2018, but it’s unclear if senior offensive assistant/tight ends coach Greg Roman will return given that his contract has expired, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Roman, a former play-caller for the 49ers and Bills, could potentially draw interest as an offensive coordinator once head coaching vacancies are filled around the league. Meanwhile, Baltimore may potentially hire a quarterbacks coach to work on Joe Flacco‘s mechanics, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters today, including Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Mornhinwheg currently holds the QBs coach title in addition to offensive coordinator.
  • Reports earlier this week indicated the Browns are interested in former Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese, and Cleveland will in fact interview him for their open offensive coordinator position, according to Rapoport (Twitter link). Browns head coach Hue Jackson, who calls his own offensive plays, had not employed an OC during his first two years in Cleveland. Zampese, the Bengals’ quarterbacks coach from 2003-16, lasted only two touchdown-less games as the club’s offensive play-caller in 2017. The Browns are also set to interview Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan for offensive coordinator in the near future.
  • Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley suffered a shattered pelvis during an incident at a bar on New Year’s Eve, but the injury is not expected to affect Haley’s ability to coach during the Divisional Round, reports Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. While there certainly could be more to the story, Haley was reportedly shoved while out to dinner with his wife in the Pittsburgh area.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Bengals, McCarron

Let’s take a quick spin around the AFC North:

  • Hue Jackson is interested in adding former Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese to the Browns’ coaching staff, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). Jackson and Zampese overlapped for a number of years on the Cincinnati staff, so there is clearly a familiarity between the two coaches. Zampese, the Bengals’ quarterbacks coach from 2003-16, lasted only two touchdown-less games as the club’s offensive play-caller in 2017. Cleveland, which didn’t employ an offensive coordinator last year, wants to interview Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan for its OC vacancy.
  • Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther may not be the only assistant coach to leave the Bengals this offseason, as Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reports (Twitter link) a number of Cincinnati staffers are on expiring contracts. Head coach Marvin Lewis agreed to an extension through 2019 earlier today, but that doesn’t mean all of his assistants will return. Given the lack of success in the Queen City over the past two years, some staff overhaul is to be expected.
  • Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron‘s free agent status grievance hearing will be settled on February 15, tweets Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. McCarron will argue that he should be an unrestricted free agent in March, while Cincinnati will contend that McCaron is a restricted free agent given that he was on the non-football injury list for most of his rookie campaign in 2014. The Bengals, of course, nearly traded McCarron to the Browns for second and third-round picks earlier this season.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Chargers, Raiders

The Broncos will consider former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and former Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese as they seek to hire a new quarterbacks coach, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). While Denver’s coaching staff will undergo something of an overhaul, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is staying put, as is interim quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak (in a new role). While neither McAdoo nor Zampese made it through the 2017 without being fired, both offer experience with Broncos head coach Vance Joseph. McAdoo and Joseph spent time together with the 49ers in 2005, while Joseph overlapped with Zampese during his tenure in Cincinnati.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • Elsewhere on the Broncos‘ offensive staff, Sean Kugler — who spent the past four-plus years as UTEP’s head coach — is interviewing today for the club’s offensive line position, tweets Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Incumbent assistant offensive line coach Chris Strausser will also interview for the full-time job, per Klis (Twitter link). Denver is seeking a replacement for Jeff Davidson, who was fired earlier this week along with several other members of the club’s offensive staff. The Broncos ranked ninth in adjusted line yards but 29th in adjusted sack rate a season ago.
  • Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn wants Gus Bradley to return as the team’s defensive coordinator in 2018, as Greg Beacham of the Associated Press writes. Bradley’s deal is set to expire, however, so nothing is certain at the moment. “We’d like to keep this together if we can,” Lynn said Monday. “I know some guys, the contracts are up. We’re working on that right now. We’re trying to keep this staff together, this nucleus together, because I think we got better as a coaching staff as the season went on.” Los Angeles ranked ninth in defensive DVOA in 2017, Bradley’s first year at the helm.
  • Defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes may get a late start to his sophomore campaign, as the rookie third-round pick suffered a torn ACL in the Raiders‘ season finale, tweets Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. While Vanderdoes graded as a bottom-20 interior defender per Pro Football Focus, he did manage to play 464 defensive snaps in his first NFL season. Now facing rehab and possibly a new defensive scheme, Vanderdoes could be looking at an uphill battle as he seeks medical clearance for the beginning of the 2018 season.

AFC Notes: Bengals, Barnidge, Texans, Pats

A “near mutiny” among Bengals players left head coach Marvin Lewis no choice but to fire offensive coordinator Ken Zampese on Friday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. The Bengals’ best offensive player, wide receiver A.J. Green, was part of the unhappy bunch, notes Florio, though Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer disputes the notion that there was anything resembling a “mutiny” (Twitter link). There was a disconnect between Zampese and the players, though, Owczarski adds. The Zampese-led Bengals scored a mere nine points in the team’s first two games, both losses, and the offense racked up just 516 yards in that span. Green posted respectable production along the way, picking up 10 receptions for 141 yards, but new O-coordinator Bill Lazor is going to have to involve him (and the Bengals’ other top skill players) in their attack more, Florio observes. Green agrees, having told reporters after Thursday night’s 13-9 loss to Houston: “We are playing like sh– right now. We got to find a way to get our playmakers the ball. That’s it. It’s a superstar-driven league. You are not going to win without them” (via Paul Dehner Jr. of the Enquirer).

More from the AFC:

  • It appears free agent tight end Gary Barnidge‘s stay on the unemployment line will continue. Barnidge worked out for the Texans on Friday, but they’re not going to sign him, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com suggests (on Twitter). The team opted to add tight end MyCole Pruitt to its practice squad after his own Friday tryout. Barnidge carries a more impressive track record than Pruitt and many other tight ends, of course, having logged quality seasons in Cleveland over each of the previous two campaigns. However, the 31-year-old hasn’t been able to find work since the Browns released him after the draft.
  • The Patriots will go without linebacker Dont’a Hightower and wide receiver Danny Amendola in New Orleans on Sunday, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Hightower suffered a right knee injury in the third quarter of Week 1 against the Chiefs, perhaps helping to pave the way for a late-game collapse from New England’s defense. The Patriots yielded 21 fourth-quarter points en route to a 42-27 loss. Amendola, who was the Patriots’ leading receiver against the Chiefs (six catches, 100 yards), is dealing with a concussion and a knee injury. Down Amendola, Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell, the Pats look poised to take on the Saints with Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett as their only options in a suddenly thin receiving corps.
  • The Luckless Colts have settled on a quarterback for Week 2.

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.

Bengals Name Ken Zampese Offensive Coordinator

The Bengals have officially named Ken Zampese their new offensive coordinator, the team announced today (Twitter link). Zampese, who receives a promotion from quarterbacks coach, replaces Hue Jackson in the role. Cincinnati also confirmed the previously-reported hiring of Jim Haslett as the team’s linebackers coach.Bengals general helmet (Featured)

[RELATED: Browns hire Hue Jackson as head coach]

Zampese, the son of longtime NFL coach Ernie Zampese, has been the Bengals’ quarterbacks coach for more than a decade, having taking over the position in 2003. Having first worked with No. 1 overall pick Carson Palmer, Zampese has more recently played a big part in Andy Dalton‘s success — the Bengals’ current signal-caller has earned a pair of Pro Bowl nods, and has made the playoffs in each of his five NFL seasons.

The decision to promote Zampese should help Dalton keep progressing in the right direction, and is also a reflection of the Bengals’ focus on continuity. That approach is on display each offseason, when the team generally sits out free agency in favor of re-signing its own players, and it extends to many of the club’s coaching decisions as well. Jackson and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther were both position coaches in Cincinnati before receiving promotions.

The Bengals now appear set to move forward with Marvin Lewis as their head coach, Guenther as the defensive coordinator, and Zampese as the offensive coordinator for the 2016 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coach Rumors: Caldwell, Eagles, Bucs, 49ers

Within the last couple days, most teams still seeking head coaches have made their decisions, even if they haven’t made those decisions official quite yet. The Giants and 49ers formally hired Ben McAdoo and Chip Kelly, respectively, while the Eagles and Buccaneers have reportedly settled on Doug Pederson and Dirk Koetter. Philadelphia will have to wait until Pederson’s Chiefs are eliminated from the postseason to officially bring him on board, while the Bucs and Koetter are said to be finalizing the terms of his deal.

The flurry of moves leaves the Titans as the only NFL team currently without a head coach, but that could change soon. Lions head coach Jim Caldwell remains on the hot seat in Detroit, and according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the team has yet to make a decision on its coach, despite the fact that Caldwell and new GM Bob Quinn have met “on at least four different occasions.”

With most head coaching vacancies filled, Quinn has the luxury of being patient in making his decision, particularly if he ends up targeting candidates that survive their playoff games this weekend. Still, he likely won’t want to leave Caldwell twisting in the wind for too long, so I’d expect a decision sooner rather than later.

As we wait to see what the Titans and Lions do with their head coaching positions, let’s check in on some Thursday updates on coaching staffs around the NFL….

  • With Doug Pederson lined up for the Eagles‘ head coaching job, there has been plenty of speculation today on his coordinators. Here’s a round-up of those rumors:
    • Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link) identifies in-house candidate Pat Shurmur and Chiefs assistant Brad Childress as possible offensive coordinators for Pederson.
    • Anthony Gargano of 97.5 The Fanatic (Twitter link) hears that Childress will likely become the Eagles’ new OC, though I expect the former Vikings head coach probably be a candidate for the same role in Kansas City. For what it’s worth, Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News tweets that Shurmur’s fate has not yet been decided.
    • On the other side of the ball, the Eagles have interest in Jim Schwartz as their defensive coordinator, though it’s not clear if he’s Pederson’s choice or the team’s, says Don Banks of SI.com (Twitter links). Banks adds that Schwartz has job offers as a defensive assistant from multiple teams.
    • Peter Schrager of FOX Sports (Twitter link) also identifies Schwartz as a DC candidate for the Eagles, while McLane tweets that Schwartz and Mike Pettine could both be names to watch.
  • With his odds of landing a head coaching job this year dwindling, former Falcons head coach Mike Smith is a candidate for the Buccaneers‘ defensive coordinator position, tweets Peter Schrager of FOX Sports.
  • Ryan Day, the Eagles‘ quarterbacks coach in 2015, is a name to watch as new 49ers head coach Chip Kelly considers his options for an offensive coordinator, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
  • If the Bengals decide to replace offensive coordinator Hue Jackson internally, longtime quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese is the most logical candidate, writes Tom Pelissero of USA Today.