Posted: 11:35 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014
By Josh Kirkendall
The Cincinnati Bengals are tasked with replacing Mike Zimmer's big shoes with a new defensive coordinator. We look at the most logical selection.
[NOTE: Most of this posting is from previous stories with some new information]
With Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer leaving for Minnesota as the Vikings newest head coach, the second-part of a two-part question is now asked: Who replaces him as the team's defensive coordinator?
The heavy favorite is linebackers coach Paul Guenther.
A veteran on Marvin Lewis' coaching staff, Guenther has been an assistant since 2005 working with special teams and linebackers before becoming the full-time linebackers coach in 2012.
Viewed as the next up-and-coming coach, he gained significant notoriety in 2012 when Thomas Howard tore his ACL. Guenther worked with rookie Vontaze Burfict for two days prior to the next game against the Cleveland Browns. They would study in a gym when the team completed their sessions to prepare the undrafted rookie. Burfict led the Bengals in tackles last year and was awarded to the Pro Bowl in 2013.
Guenther is also noted for helping develop undrafted free agent Emmanuel Lamur, who was projected as a starting linebacker this year before a season-ending shoulder injury wiped out his season. Much like he did with Burfict when Howard went down, Guenther spent day and night with Taylor Mays, converting him from a roster bubble at safety into a productive contributor as a hybrid linebacker.
Also consider that with Guenther, the Bengals won't have to change their philosophy, terminology and structure after spending the last six seasons under defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. All the pieces and players are already in place, the Bengals essentially have an understudy replacing him, limiting the impact.