Bengals With an Opening at the OC Spot with Bratkowski Firing

Now that Bengaldom has been granted our Christmas wish (a month later) and Bratkowski has been canned, the next move is to speculate on who could be taking over.  Joe Reedy has some options that should be of a surprise to no one.  No offense to the Bengals or Reedy, but there’s no “outside the box” thinking here.

Internal candidates include Ken Zampese and Mike Sheppard.  Zampese arguably deserves a shot at it having interviewed for OC positions with other teams over the last few years.  He has a good working relationship with Palmer (so we think), and would ensure that the offensive terminology and basic fundamentals would remain the same. Word is that Zampese took over the offensive play-calling from Brat at the Senior Bowl after the South took a 17-0 halftime lead.  The North scored 10 points in the second half.  Sheppard has a long history with Lewis going back 26 years, and he has OC experience, most recently in New Orleans.

Analysis: Neither of these guys in my view is close to a sure bet and neither will likely inspire the fanbase, Carson Palmer, or Cedric Benson.  It’s no wonder the team is talking outside candidates.

Outside Candidates that Reedy mentions are Jeremy Bates, Norm Chow, Mike Heimerdinger, Brad Childress, and Jim Zorn.  Bates has only one year of play-calling experience, and has been said to grate players.  Chow might get Palmer’s vote as he coached him at USC and was a record-setting OC at the college level, but could not replicate that success in the NFL and is back in the collegiate ranks at Utah. Heimerdinger’s success was tepid at best, and Zorn and Childress have head coaching experience, but are more QB coach than Offensive Coordinator.  Neither has a track record as a play-caller.

Analysis:  While these may seem more appealing than the internal group, there’s nothing to get excited about here.  I say keep looking

How about some people not mentioned?  People who aren’t getting play for head coaching candidacies and may be willing to take an OC job for a year or two to get their names back in the mix?  Guys like:

  • Brian Billick: The former Super Bowl winning coach for Baltimore was the offensive coordinator of Minnesota’s record-breaking offense in the late 90?s with Randall Cunningham, Randy Moss, and Cris Carter. He was able to adapt to a more run-heavy attack in Baltimore that won it all in 2000.  Marvin Lewis was his defensive coordinator, so they have a working relationship there.
  • Steve Mariucci: Sure, the guy didn’t succeed in Detroit, but then who does?  He had great success as the head man in San Francisco, and mentored guys like Steve Young and Brett Favre.

Barring those names, the team should look long and hard at assistants on high-powered offenses at both the NFL and collegiate level, particularly the staffs in New Orleans, Indianapolis, Green Bay, New England, and Philadelphia.

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