Who’s next for the Bengals? A look at potential head coach candidates

In a press conference Monday to address his departure from the Cincinnati Bengals, Marvin Lewis lobbied for former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson to get some consideration as his replacement.

Lewis was asked specifically if Jackson should be a candidate, and the 16-year Bengals head coach said Jackson fell into some tough situations and things just didn’t break his way but that he is more than qualified.

»RELATED: Lewis on his Bengals tenure — ‘I didn’t deliver’

Jackson is among a list of eight head coaches who were fired during or after this season, so the Bengals likely will have a pool of candidates made up of former head coaches, rising assistants and possibly a couple college coaches.

Here are some of the names that could pop up in the search for Cincinnati's 10th head coach:


Jackson has spent eight seasons with the Bengals in various roles, including a successful run as offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015, which landed him the job as Cleveland’s head coach in 2016. He had been considered Lewis’ potential successor before leaving but his 3-36-1 record with the Browns (and their success after he was fired midseason) might have clouded his resume too much.

»RELATED: Social media reacts to end of Lewis era


Special teams coordinators aren’t usually prime candidates for head coaching gigs, but NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that sources say Simmons “has a real good shot.” Simmons has worked with almost every player on the roster at some point while serving as Bengals special teams coordinator the past 16 years, and he has been an NFL coach for 21 seasons overall, previously working in Baltimore and Carolina. It also is worth noting that when Lewis missed a practice during training camp last year because of a health issue, Simmons was the coach that Mike Brown put in charge of the team for the day.

»RELATED: Bengals search to start with internal candidates


Lazor, who was promoted to offensive coordinator after two games in 2017, is reportedly another one of the in-house candidates who will get an interview. At age 46, Lazor could be a good, young option as someone ready for his first head coaching job. The Bengals were one of the top scoring offenses in the league during a 4-1 start to the season before injuries set them back and Lazor has now been coaching in the NFL for 19 seasons.


The Bengals reportedly requested an interview with McDaniels, the former Broncos coach and current Patriots offensive coordinator who was set to become Indianapolis’ head coach last year before electing to stay in New England.

The 42-year-old Ohio native was Denver’s head coach in 2009-10 and has spent the past seven years with the Patriots, where he also began his NFL coaching career as personnel assistant in 2001 and then defensive assistant before switching over to the offense.

»RELATED: Bengals to interview Rams’ assistants


The Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach could make a return to the Queen City, where he served as the Cincinnati Bearcats’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2016. Reports indicate he is expected to interview with the Bengals on Friday. He also spent four seasons with the Miami Dolphins as an assistant prior to his stints at UC and with the Rams, where he’s coached since 2017.


Perhaps the Bengals are looking for the next Sean McVay, as his pass game coordinator also reportedly was requested for an interview. Waldron began as the Rams’ tight ends coach in 2017 but was promoted when Matt LaFleur became offensive coordinator for the Titans this past season.

»RELATED: Bengals sign kicker, five other players


The former Bengals offensive coordinator (2011-13) is under contract as the head coach of the Washington Redskins through 2020 and his job appeared safe as of Tuesday early afternoon, but Gruden told reporters Monday he still hadn’t spoken with team president Bruce Allen or owner Daniel Snyder. Washington missed the playoffs for the third straight season, and Snyder has a history of firing coaches with time remaining on their deals.

If his status changes, Gruden, an Ohio native, most certainly would be an option for the Bengals.


Bieniemy succeeded Matt Nagy as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator when Nagy left to become the Bears’ head coach, and the Chiefs’ offense has become more dynamic than ever. Patrick Mahomes has flourished in his first season starting at quarterback, and suddenly Bieniemy is a hot candidate for a head coaching job.


The newly fired Broncos head coach already has ties to the Bengals after spending two seasons as defensive backs coach in 2014 and 2015 before going on to become the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator in 2016. He served as Denver’s head coach the past two years but was let go after posting an 11-21 record.

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