It's going to be an interesting offseason in Cincinnati now that Marvin Lewis Bengals.with the
For the first time in 15 years, the Bengals are going to have to conduct a coaching search, which is always an adventure in Cincinnati and that's mainly because of the way the team's ownership is structured under Mike Brown. Basically, Brown is the entire structure and he has final say on all decisions.
There's a reason Lewis lasted for 15 years with the Bengals despite winning zero playoff games and that reason is because Brown is loyal and also loves having a coach he's familiar with. The Bengals almost never go outside the organization to make a hire, which is why it will be interesting to watch their coaching search take place.
When Lewis was hired in 2003, he became the first Bengals coach since 1980 -- and just second in team history -- who was hired without having any prior ties to the organization. The Bengals just love hiring a familiar face. Well, Brown loves hiring a familiar face, and that's where this search will get interesting.
If the 82-year-old Brown is handling things, he may very well go with a familiar face. If Brown let's his daughter, Katie Blackburn, who also happens to be the team's executive vice president, handle things, then we might see an outside candidate get hired like we did with Lewis.
Remember, the Bengals don't have a general manager, so that position won't have any say in a potential new coach.
With all of that in mind, let's take a look at five candidates (plus two bonus candidates). And keep in mind, we're going offensive heavy with our coaching candidates because that's what the Bengals need right now.
Paul Guenther and Darrin Simmons
If the Bengals decide to go with someone who's already on the coaching staff, it's almost certainly going to be Guenther or Simmons. Guenther, who took over the Bengals defensive coordinator after Mike Zimmer left in 2014, has been with the organization since 2005. Guether is in his fourth season as the team's defensive coordinator and under his watch, the Bengals defense has been one of the team's most reliable units. The team has ranked in the top-10 of fewest points surrendered a total of two times over the past four years, which is always a good thing when you have an erratic offense like the Bengals do.
The other in-house candidate for the Bengals is special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. Simmons has been with the team since Lewis was hired in 2003 and if the Bengals want some continuity, then going with the 44-year-old Simmons would definitely accomplish that. One thing Simmons has going for him is that he's well-liked by the players and the front office.
Outside candidates familiar with the Bengals
Hue Jackson and Jay Gruden
These might seem like two crazy options, but as I already mentioned, the Bengals loving hiring a familiar face and no one fits the bill more than Jackson and Gruden. Although Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has insisted that Jackson will be returning to Cleveland next season, there's no guarantee that's going to happen now that general manager John Dorsey is in charge. If Dorsey wants to bring in his own guy, it wouldn't be shocking at all to see him dump Jackson at the end of the year.
Although Jackson hasn't worked out in Cleveland, he could be a great fit in Cincinnati. Remember that one year when Andy Dalton was somehow in the MVP conversation? That came in 2015 when Jackson was running the Bengals offense. Jackson was on the Bengals staff from 2004 to 2006 and then returned in 2012. He served as offensive coordinator for two seasons (2014-2015) and knows how to get the most out of Dalton.
Not surprisingly, the other guy on this list is also a former Bengals offensive coordinator. Although Gruden is currently under contract with the Redskins, no job is ever safe with Daniel Snyder running the show, and it's not crazy to think that Gruden could be available if the Redskins finish 5-11 or 6-10.
Gruden was the Bengals' offensive coordinator from 2011 to 2013 and is also the reason why Andy Dalton is even on the team. Brown Colin Kaepernick in the 2011 NFL Draft, but Gruden was able to talk him into taking Andy Dalton.
After watching three coordinators leave over the past five years -- Gruden, Zimmer and Jackson -- and two of them having success in other places, Brown might feel that it's time to bring one of them back.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels
McDaniels is going to be on everyone's wish list this holiday season, so landing him won't be easy. One reason McDaniels might actually like this job is because there's a lot of offensive talent already in place. Also, he's not necessarily tied to Dalton. If McDaniels likes Dalton, he can obviously keep him. However, if he doesn't like Dalton, it would be pretty easy to move on from him since the Bengals can cut him after the 2017 season with a dead cap hit of just $2.4 million. Fans in Cincinnati would likely love this hire because of how much success McDaniels has had in New England.
Although he had a disastrous two-year stint as the Broncos head coach, that was seven years ago and he's likely learned since then that drafting Tim Tebow in the first round probably wasn't a great idea.
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley
Bengals fans might hate the idea of bringing in an assistant coach from their hated rival, but this move actually makes some sense on a lot of levels. For one, we've seen what Haley has done in Pittsburgh and there's no reason to think he can't do that in Cincinnati.
One thing to like about Haley is that the Steelers offense has been ranked in the top-10 in total offense and points scored in every season since 2014. Also, with Ben Roethlisberger seemingly contemplating retirement every offseason, Haley might view this offseason as the perfect time to move on.
Like McDaniels, Haley did have a rough time out during his last stint as a head coach. However, that mostly had to do with the fact that he was stuck in Kansas City with a quarterback in Matt Cassel that he didn't love. Although he only lasted three seasons during his time with the Chiefs, he did lead them to the playoffs once.
Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich
The newest name on the market this offseason might be Reich, who has been the Eagles OC since last season. Reich was hired the same year Carson Wentz was drafted and two have thrived together. With Wentz under center, the Eagles have the NFL's top-scoring offense through 14 weeks and are also ranked third in total yards.
Reich served as an offensive coordinator for two seasons with the Chargers (2014-15) before joining the Eagles in 2016. One thing to like about Reich is that he'll definitely be able to get in a quarterback's head, which is likely going to be a good thing since he'll be working with Dalton. Reich was an NFL quarterback from 1984 to 1998, so he has an understanding of what Dalton's going through.
The bottom line is that the Bengals have a lot of talent and this could be a very attractive job. Sure, they haven't won a playoff game since the 1990 season, but it's not often a job comes open where the team has made the playoffs in six of the past nine years.