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Marvin Lewis on losing both coordinators: 'It's a strain'

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Bengals coach Marvin Lewis knew he'd likely eventually have to replace his coordinators.

Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer had become a head-coaching candidate for the past few years -- even if the perception that he was perhaps a little too gruff to actually land a job (a perception that Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman laughed at when I asked them about it Thursday) -- and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden had become a legitimate candidate in two of the past three offseasons.

So, when Gruden was hired by the Redskins and Zimmer was hired by the Vikings last month, the loss of both was going to strain Lewis in the early part of the offseason.

"It's a strain when you lose good people like we did," Lewis said. "It was very fortunate that we had good people in our plans and we could go to them right away. We're really fortunate. But we had this plan in place, and the timing of it all fell into place."

Gruden was hired by the Redskins on Jan. 9, while the Vikings procured Zimmer six days later. So, unlike a late hire like Mike Pettine in Cleveland, both former Bengals coordinators were gone in plenty of time for Cincinnati to implement its plan and hire new coordinators.

Thus, no matter what other interest there was for Hue Jackson or Paul Guenther -- and Zimmer and Gruden wanted Guenther to follow them at their respective jobs -- it wasn't too difficult for Lewis to hire Jackson as the offensive coordinator and Guenther as the defensive coordinator in a timely fashion.

Both have coached for Lewis for many years -- even though Jackson was the Raiders head coach for a season -- and that kind of continuity is helpful for the team and for its coach. That's why Lewis, for the past several years, has tried to have that plan of succession.

"You try to, but it doesn't always go that way," Lewis said. "Even with all that, the time of the way it all occurred played well for the Bengals. ... Our guys are excited about the transition. They know what Hue's all about. There's nobody that's going to rest this offseason."

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