Will Vance Joseph get Bengals head coaching job by default?

Joseph, Eric Bieniemy will interview this week
Posted at 1:27 PM, Jan 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-03 22:50:14-05

CINCINNATI — It's easy to see how fired Broncos coach Vance Joseph might get the Bengals' job by default.

It looks like the Bengals want to hire an outside replacement with Bengals ties for fired head coach Marvin Lewis, judging by the interviews they've lined up.

Beyond the current staff, the Bengals will interview Joseph on Thursday and Friday and Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on Friday, according to NFL insider reports.

Rams head coach Sean McVay confirmed that the Bengals asked permission to talk to QB coach Zac Taylor and pass-game coordinator and tight ends coach Shane Waldron, but so far no interviews have been scheduled.

The Bengals have also requested an interview with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who does not have Bengals ties but is considered one of the top candidates on the market and probably would be too pricey and demanding for Mike Brown.

Of course, it's Brown family tradition to hire a head coach with Bengals ties. The only exceptions were Lewis (2003-2018) and Forrest Gregg (1980-1983).

Consider, then, that the competition for Bieniemy and McDaniels is expected to be fierce, with eight NFL teams searching for new head coaches. Bieniemy has interviews with the Jets, Bucs and Dolphins before coming here. McDaniels, considered a favorite for the Packers job, has an interview with Green Bay Friday and could be arranging for a moving van on Saturday.

Even if Bieniemy and McDaniels are interested in coaching here - and other teams are surely more attractive - you'd have to ask whether Brown is prepared to meet their contract demands or relinquish the control they seek.

Meanwhile, there are no reports that the Bengals have lined up interviews with fired Packers coach Mike McCarthy or Patriots defensive assistant Brian Flores, who are getting lots of interest from other teams but don't have Bengals ties.

McCarthy has lined up interviews with the Browns and Jets, with the Cardinals also showing interest. Flores is reportedly on the interview list of the Packers, Browns, Dolphins, Broncos and Bucs.

All of that appears to make Joseph the early leader in the Bengals clubhouse since there are no reports of other teams having interest in giving him another head coaching job. Or Joseph could end up filling the open defensive coordinator's position here if the Bengals find another head coach.

The Bengals could always hire from within, of course, since it's Brown's call. Assistant Hue Jackson, special teams coach Darrin Simmons and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor were expected to interview this week. But it's hard to imagine how Brown could sell Jackson to the few fans the team has left, not after Jackson's 3-36 record in 2 1/2 seasons in Cleveland.

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The 46-year-old Joseph, who coached Bengals defensive backs in 2014-15 under Lewis, was fired Monday after going 11-21 in two seasons in Denver. He left the Bengals in 2016 to become Dolphins defensive coordinator.

The 49-year-old Bieniemy, a Bengals running back and kick returner from 1995 to 1998, is one of the hottest head coaching candidates based on the Chiefs’ record-setting offensive success this season. Bieniemy was Chiefs running back coach for five seasons until making the jump to offensive coordinator in 2018. He was running backs coach for the Vikings for five years (2006-2010).

McDaniels, 42, has been part of five Super Bowl championship teams with the Patriots as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. But McDaniels also has two stains on his resume: an 11-17 record in two years as head coach with the Broncos and the fact that he took the Colts head coaching job last February, then backed out two days later.

The Browns will interview McCarthy on Thursday after meeting Wednesday with former Colts/Lions coach Jim Caldwell and interim coach Gregg Williams, who led them to a 5-3 turnaround in the second half from the Jackson apocalypse. The Browns are also said to be highly interested in McDaniels, but there are no reports that they have scheduled an interview with him.

McDaniels and Flores can interview this week under an NFL rule allowing assistant coaches with playoff teams that have byes in the wild-card games to be interviewed for head coaching positions through the wild-card weekend.