Assessing the Cincinnati Bengals NFL Coaching Staff for 2021

By Dan Vasta in Sports
| August 26, 2021 7:58 am PDT

The Cincinnati Bengals have had plenty of struggles over the years, and there were even challenging moments last season. Joe Burrow (knee) went down with a season-ending injury that had most Bengals fans panicking about his future.

The Bengals franchise has gone through enough over the years, and now they have had to deal with Ja’Marr Chase having preseason struggles. The number one wide receiver having issues with the drops is not what you want to hear heading into the season, but there will always be turmoil for this franchise.

Zac Taylor has a lot on his plate, but he has young pieces to build for a bright future. Let’s see if that translates to success in 2021 with a look at the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff.

Zac Taylor – Head Coach

There aren’t many franchises that have more of an uphill climb than the Bengals. The franchise cannot help but struggle to find consistency. Five straight losing seasons have forced them to keep building for the future and hoping to find a star.

Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase will hopefully turn into a dynamic duo. Even with them, this could be another struggling season.

This franchise has a ton of droughts they would love to end during Taylor’s tenure.

  • Last Playoff Win: 1990
  • Last Playoff Appearance: 2015
  • Last Winning Season: 2015
  • Super Bowl Appearance: 1988

Taylor brings experience as a former college quarterback for Nebraska and he spent four seasons with the Dolphins.

He started calling plays as the Miami offensive coordinator before eventually coaching with Sean McVay for the Rams in 2017-18 as a receiver and quarterback coach. McVay has turned in plenty of successful coaches, and many are still getting opportunities.

Taylor cannot look at the Bengals as a playoff team, but improving them in his third season should be a goal. He has won six games through two seasons, and it takes time to develop some of the worst franchises in the league.

The hope is Taylor will build the necessary confidence for Burrow and keep improving the pieces around him.

Top Bengals Assistants

The Cincinnati assistants will have to put together impressive game plans to avoid another losing season, but there is potential to make great strides. The offensive coordinator is Brian Callahan, who is the son of longtime NFL coach Bill Callahan.

The Bengals offense should be fun to coach, but they need to utilize their talent at the skill players. Not every struggling team has the kind of offensive talent that is at the disposal of the Bengals.

The defense will be much more challenging due to a lack of talent. The defensive side of the ball has struggled for years, and the hope is Lou Anarumo will turn things around in his third season.

Brian Callahan – Offensive Coordinator

The Bengals offense has lots of youth, and it will be up to coach Taylor and Brian Callahan to make sure they fulfill their potential. Joe Mixon is an underrated player when healthy.

The issue and struggles at running the football for the Bengals last season were tough to watch.

Callahan will be tasked with fixing the ground game to set the offense up for success.

There were too many games in which they failed miserably at opening up holes. To make matters worse, they were trailing in the majority of their games early on. Too many negative plays in the backfield are a cause for concern.

Mixon often has to dodge tackles to get back to the line of scrimmage. Joe Burrow and the passing game will need to be relevant.

Tee Higgins had a solid rookie season, but he can’t carry this team by himself. Tyler Boyd will need to improve, but Ja’Marr Chase must develop. Battling the case of drops is never the goal in the preseason, especially for a top-five pick.

Callahan should get their productivity back to a respectable level, but it may not be enough to help them win games due to their struggles on defense.

Lou Anarumo – Defensive Coordinator

The Bengals issues on defense come down to their inability to stop the run. The front seven is going to make the season a challenge for Anarumo.

The hope is they will improve on these horrific numbers from a season ago under Anarumo.

  • Scoring Defense: 26.5 PPG (No. 22)
  • Total Defense: 389.2 YPG (No. 26)
  • Rush Defense: 148.0 YPG (No. 29)

The Bengals have to deal with Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, and Najee Harris in the AFC North.

The division is sensational at the skill players, but it will be a tall task to make great strides. Players such as Sam Hubbard and former New Orleans defensive end Trey Hendrickson will need to perform like Pro Bowlers. They already lost rookie Joseph Ossai for potentially the season.

The secondary has capable talents with Jesse Bates, Von Bell, and Chidobe Awuzie.

The linebackers will be a problem with so much inexperience, which will not allow them to become a consistent squad.

Other Bengals Assistants for 2021

  • Darrin Simmons: Special Teams Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach
  • Colt Anderson: Assistant Special Teams
  • James Casey: Tight Ends
  • Louie Cioffi: Defensive Quality Control
  • Mark Duffner: Senior Defensive Assistant
  • Al Golden: Linebackers
  • Justin Hill: Running Backs
  • Jordan Kovacs: Defensive Quality Control
  • Steve Jackson: Secondary/Cornerbacks
  • Marion Hobby: Defensive Line
  • Brad Kragthorpe: Assistant Wide Receivers
  • Robert Livingston: Secondary/Safeties
  • Ben Martin: Assistant Offensive Line
  • Troy Walters: Wide Receivers
  • Frank Pollack: Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator
  • Dan Pitcher: Quarterbacks
  • Joey Boese: Strength & Conditioning
  • Todd Hunt: Assistant Strength & Conditioning
  • Garrett Swanson: Assistant Strength & Conditioning
  • Doug Rosfeld: Director of Coaching Operations

There are former college and NFL players on this list like there are for many staffs. James Casey, Jordan Kovacs, and Troy Walters are the best of the bunch.

Al Golden was the former Miami Hurricanes head coach, and he enters his second season as the linebacker coach.

These assistants will look to put together a respectable 2021 campaign after failing to eclipse the four-win total in each of the past two seasons.

Looking Ahead to 2021 for the Bengals

The season ahead for the Bengals does not come with lofty expectations. The team will attempt to be more competitive against playoff squads.

Burrow needs to stay healthy and get better protection at the line of scrimmage. Joe Mixon needs to stay healthy and be utilized more in the passing game, especially if the ground game struggles again.

Boyd, Higgins, and Chase need to show signs of development. Chase likely will draw the most set of eyes after his preseason struggles.

This team has too many concerns heading into the season to expect seven or eight-plus wins. However, they may surprise and be a thorn in the side for most of the AFC North teams and beyond.

The middle of their defense needs to grow up and become more of a pain for teams to run the ball downhill. They had an issue slowing down the worst running games a season ago.

Barring we witness drastic changes; this coaching staff will be hard-pressed to find success in more than a handful of games. 

To get up to speed with the rest of the AFC North coaching staffs, check out the posts below.

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