CINCINNATI — The Bengals are spreading their coaching search beyond those with ties to the team, but you can cross one big name off the list, according to NFL insider reports.
The Bengals' list now includes Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron and Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken. None of them have Bengals ties.
The Bengals' search committee, headed by Bengals president Mike Brown, is hitting the road this weekend for eight interviews, according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. Hobson didn't say who would be interviewed.
The good news for Bengals fans who want the team to look outside its own circle is that they have scheduled interviews with Taylor and Waldron in Los Angeles on Friday, according to Tom Pellisero of NFL Network. Monken is also on their interview list, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, although no time or place was reported for his interview.
One coach you can cross off the Bengals list is Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He turned down the Bengals’ request for an interview, according to NFL Network sources. Not that McDaniels was a legitimate candidate anyway. Odds were a zillion-to-one that would he reach an agreement with Brown on a contract or team control.
Taylor, Waldron and Monken share a common theme with another coach on the Bengals' interview list, Eric Bieniemy of the Chiefs. They have not been head coaches but they have been involved with high-scoring offenses, and the Bengals' interest in all four may indicate that the team wants to get in step with the rest of the NFL, which has gone offense-crazy the last two years.
Not coincidentally, the Chiefs, Rams and Bucs were 1-2-3 in scoring in the NFL this season.
Bieniemy, the Chiefs' OC, is scheduled to interview with the Bengals on Saturday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The Bengals are turning the page from the 16-year Marvin Lewis era. Lewis, who built his coaching career as a defensive coordinator with the Ravens and Redskins, was fired Monday with one year left on a two-year contract.
The Bengals may be looking for "the next Sean McVay" in Taylor and Waldron - two young coaches without a lot of experience but who can say they worked for the 32-year-old McVay, who happens to be the hottest and youngest head coach in the NFL. In McVay's two years as head coach, the Rams have finished No. 1 and No. 2 in scoring, and Jared Goff has emerged as a Pro Bowl QB, presumably with help from Taylor and Waldron.
Taylor, a former Nebraska quarterback, has ties to Cincinnati but with the Bearcats, not the Bengals. He was OC and QB coach in Clifton in Tommy Tuberville's last season (2016).
At 35, Taylor is the youngest and least experienced of this year's NFL head coaching candidates, having never been a full-time OC much less a head coach. But he's also getting interviews from the Broncos and Cardinals, thanks to his QB experience and his association with McVay.
Waldron, 39, also coaches the Rams' tight ends. He is in his seventh NFL season, second with the Rams and his first as passing game coordinator. In 2016, Waldron worked under OC McVay in Washington as the team’s offensive quality control coach. Washigton's offense was No. 3 in the league that year. Waldron also coached tight ends for the Patriots under Bill Belichick.
Monken, 52, is not considered a candidate for the Bucs head coaching job following Dirk Koetter's firing this week, but he's gotten some interest from the Jets. His NFL resume includes three years with the Bucs and four years with the Jaguars as wide receivers coach (2007-2010). In between he was offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State (2011-2012) and head coach at Southern Miss (2013-2015).
Former Bengal Ryan Fitzpatrick, now Buccaneers backup quarterback, endorsed Monken, telling the NY Daily News that Monken has the "it factor as a head coach.”
The Bengals' only known defensive-minded candidate, fired Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, had an interview Thursday, reports say.
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).
Bieniemy is a former Bengals running back (1994-98) and Joseph is a former defensive backs coach here (1994-95).
The Bengals have also interviewed three coaches in house – former OC Hue Jackson, current OC Bill Lazor and special teams coach Darrin Simmons.
Bieniemy, who moved up to OC this season after five years as running backs coach with the Chiefs and five with the Vikings, is the most sought-after candidate on the Bengals’ list, based on the Chiefs' record-breaking offensive success. He reportedly accepted interviews with the Jets, Dolphins and Bucs and turned down the Cardinals.
No other teams have publicly expressed interest in hiring Joseph as a head coach, giving reason to believe he could end up filling the Bengals' open defensive coordinator post.