Austin aims to shape, not overhaul, Bengals defense

New Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin made two things clear during his introductory press conference Wednesday at Paul Brown Stadium.

The first was that there will be some changes to the defense, but not a complete overhaul.

And the second was that he chose to come to Cincinnati to win games, not a head coaching job.

“The biggest selling point is you have a chance to come work with a quality person, a chance to work with a quality team,” Austin said. “All of that other stuff will take care of itself. I can’t control that. So when you have an opportunity to work with good people, good players, good teams, you have to take that chance.

“That’s really what I was looking for more than ‘Hey, I can go with Marvin and possibly become a head coach,’” Austin added.

›› 5 things Austin needs to address with the Bengals defense

The defensive coordinator in Detroit the last four seasons, Austin has had 10 interviews to become a head coach, including one last week with the Lions to succeed Jim Caldwell.

Austin has been critical in the past of the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations jobs, but he was more diplomatic Wednesday.

“I think when I made the statement about the Rooney Rule was how I felt about after that particular year,” Austin said. “I thought at the time there were some interviews that weren’t … I didn’t put my best foot forward. I didn’t do very well. But other times you could tell it was just, ‘Hey, we’re going to check this box and we’re going to move on.’

“More importantly than worrying about the Rooney Rule is trying to make sure that I get my defense to play well,” he added.

Follow Jay Morrison on Twitter

Austin said his goal is to make the transition from the system run by former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who took the same job in Oakland earlier this week, to his as smooth as possible for the players.

“It’s more about them than it is for us,” he said. “If you’ve got guys that have been in it, we try to keep things as similar as possible terminology wise, because that makes people comfortable, coaches and players. But there’s going to be changes. There has to be. There’s going to be changes in terms of how you maybe call a few things, but it won’t be an overhaul.”

Austin said he wants his defense to be aggressive, physical and focused on turnovers, an area where the Bengals have been deficient the last two seasons, especially in 2017 when they recorded a franchise-low 14 takeaways.

›› Home of former Bengals player burglarized

Under Austin, the Lions forced 32 turnovers last year, third most in the league.

“It’s like anything else in coaching, you get what you emphasize,” he said. “This past offseason I really, really dove into making sure we emphasized it more. We ran more drills, more takeaway drills. We kept that going throughout the entire year, and I think it paid off because what our guys saw were tangible results early. And they kept building off that.”

In their first comments after Monday’s signing, both Lewis and Austin used the word “aggressive.”

Austin expanded on that Wednesday.

“I think being aggressive is on defense we’re going to try to play on their side of the line of scrimmage,” he said. “We’re going to play without fear. We’re going to play really, really physical and strong. We’re not going to try to sit back and let somebody try and dictate what we do.

“To me, aggressive is not fighting and talking and all of that other stuff. It’s how you play the game,” he added. “That’s what I want our people to see.”

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Like our Cincinnati Bengals News Now Facebook page

Lewis said he first met Austin when was coaching in Baltimore and Austin was a summer intern. He followed his career after that and took note of the job he did as defensive coordinator at the University of Florida in 2010. But the Baltimore Ravens hired Austin as their secondary coach after his one season with the Gators.

When the Bengals played the Lions on Dec. 24, Lewis had a message for Austin.

“I told him to stay in touch,” he said. “I’m glad it’s worked out. The big thing was his opportunity to possibly become a head coach in the NFL. I was waiting for that one way or another to break, and I know that will occur in his future. That’s the exciting thing. Hopefully we have great success immediately, and he gets that opportunity.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

LSU offers 4-star in-state defensive lineman CamRon Jackson
LSU offers 4-star in-state defensive lineman CamRon Jackson

After a weekend visit, CamRon Jackson now holds an offer from LSU. The offer came in on Monday evening when coach Ed Orgeron called up the 4-star Class of 2020 defensive lineman. After a brief exchange, Jackson received the offer and was overwhelmed with emotion. “Its been a dream school since I was young. This feels...
Joel Berry named North Carolina Male Athlete of the Year
Joel Berry named North Carolina Male Athlete of the Year

Joel Berry is the North Carolina Male Athlete of the Year, the school announced on Monday night. Berry concluded his college basketball career for the Tar Heels in 2018. Berry didn’t have his best statistical campaign in 2017-18, but he was the ultimate winner throughout his college tenure. He averaged 17.1 points per...
WATCH: UCLA’s NCAA title clincher Christine Peng-Peng Lee going to Disney World
WATCH: UCLA’s NCAA title clincher Christine Peng-Peng Lee going to Disney World

UCLA completed quite a comeback in the NCAA women’s gymnastics Super Six on Saturday, leaping from last to first in the final two events. Much of the credit for that thrilling final is due to sixth-year senior Christine Peng-Peng Lee, who posted two perfect 10s to send the Bruins to the title. To celebrate, she&rsquo...
Five-run seventh inning carries Reds to fourth win
Five-run seventh inning carries Reds to fourth win

The Cincinnati Reds hit a home run for the first time in eight days. They grabbed a lead for the first time in 50 innings. They scored more than three runs for the first time in a week. Most importantly, the Reds won a game, snapping a five-game losing streak by beating the Atlanta Braves 10-4 on Monday in the opener of a four-game series at Great...
Mike Gundy: Mason Rudolph is ‘going to do everything right all the time’ in NFL
Mike Gundy: Mason Rudolph is ‘going to do everything right all the time’ in NFL

The 2018 NFL Draft will get underway from AT&T Stadium — home of the Dallas Cowboys — on Thursday evening. And when it comes to Cowboys — Oklahoma State Cowboys, that is — Mason Rudolph is hoping to hear his name called earlier rather than later. Rudolph, who ended his run at Oklahoma State from 2014-2017 as...
More Stories