Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has run a successful program, which means he’s had to replace assistants who earn promotions.
So when offensive coordinator Hue Jackson got the Browns head coaching job this offseason, he stayed in-house for a replacement, moving quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese up a chair.
It’s the same way he replaced promoted coordinators Mike Zimmer (with Paul Guenther) and Jay Gruden (with Jackson) last offseason, and there’s a reason he prefers to do it that way.
“I didn’t want to start over again, where we’re teaching a new coach, or teaching a new offense,” Lewis said, via Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. “Hue was here as part of the offense when he became the coordinator so the transition was fairly smooth. This will be a smooth transition in terms of nomenclature and verbiage, which is important for our players to not have to take a step sideways. That way, we can continue to forge forward.”
While it’s a bit of a concern any time a staff loses human talent, Lewis hopes that the overall plan he’s built in Cincinnati will help them adjust. He cited lessons he learned from Tony Dungy, when he was an assistant with aspirations.
“Sometimes, the guys just have to make a tackle,” Lewis said. “Tony Dungy told me that back in the spring of 1997, that was my first year as the coordinator in Baltimore. ‘Marvin, sometimes, they just have to make a tackle, whether it’s second-and-3 or first-and-10.’ You can’t worry about all the what-ifs. You gotta have a sound system, you have to believe in your system, and then the players gotta go play.
“I think that’s the thing as a playcaller. You gotta put a great plan together, and we know we’re gonna be sound with it, and then we gotta let the players go play.”
So while there’s pressure on Zampese to keep the Bengals offense going this year, after losing a pair of very good wide receivers in free agency, there’s also enough structure in place to support him. And they still have an impressive base of talent on that side of the ball, which creates not only an opportunity on the field for the team, but for Zampese’s career as well.