Friday, January 05, 2001

Bengals hire cornerbacks coach

Team also adds offensive assistant

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Bengals hired a second defensive backs coach Thursday, following a trend in the NFL to devote more attention to a position under siege by rules changes and interpretations that favor passing offenses.

        Kevin Coyle, 44, defensive coordinator and secondary coach the past four seasons at Fresno State, joins the Bengals as defensive backfield/cornerbacks coach. Former defensive backs coach Ray Horton becomes defensive backfield/safeties coach.

        Defensive coordinator Mark Duffner, promoted last week to fill coach Dick LeBeau's former position, has coached with Coyle for 14 years. Coyle was defensive coordinator when Duffner was head coach at Holy Cross and Maryland.

        The Bengals on Thursday also hired John Garrett as offensive assistant. He was an assistant coach in Cincinnati for four seasons before working as Arizona's quarterbacks coach the past two years. Garrett was fired by the Cardinals after the season but brings experience of working with a young quarterback, Jake Plummer, and a reputation as a good talent scout.

        Coyle and Garrett give the Bengals 13 assistant coaches, tying for most in franchise history.

        Cincinnati will have 14 assistant coaches — the same as 23 NFL teams — when it fills the offensive coordinator's job. LeBeau has interviewed Colts quarterbacks coach Bruce Arians, who helped develop Peyton Manning. LeBeau also plans to talk with former Steelers offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who was fired last week, and Jeff Tedford, offensive coordinator at the University of Oregon. Tedford was Akili Smith's coordinator in college and is Smith's choice for the coordinator's job. “We've made a million calls,” LeBeau said of his coordinator search, which includes candidates still coaching in the NFL playoffs. “We're not going to talk to 15 people. But we are going to talk to a good amount — three or four more guys — before we make the final decision.”

        Coyle was Duffner's hire.

        “Kevin's a very good teacher,” said Duffner, who also will continue as linebackers coach. “When we thought about bringing in another coach, the best coach I know is Kevin Coyle. I thought, "How do we make this fit?'”

        Duffner's first idea was having Coyle coach linebackers. But that group already was the most productive on the team, and Duffner thought Coyle's talents would be better used in the secondary.

        Coyle played defensive back in college at Massachusetts. He was a graduate assistant at the University of Cincinnati when Duffner was defensive coordinator there in the late 1970s, and Coyle earned a master's degree in education from UC in 1979.

        Coyle knows Horton and looks forward to working with him. Several teams — Miami, Chicago, Denver, Green Bay — also have two DBs coaches. “It's a very workable thing,” Coyle said. “It's hard when you've got to go back there and see four guys at one time. You can't see the whole field.”

        Coyle was defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Syracuse from 1991-93.

        After working for Duffner at Maryland, where Coyle took the Terps' defense from near the bottom to 29th in rankings in three seasons, Coyle went to Fresno. There he coached Bengals safety Cory Hall, one of several NFL defensive backs he has coached in college.

        Coyle also coached the Steelers' Chad Scott and the Browns' Lewis Sanders at Maryland and the Jaguars' Donovin Darius at Syracuse.

        With the Bengals, Coyle will be coaching cornerbacks who aren't much older than college players. The team's second- and fifth-round draft picks, Mark Roman and Robert Bean, both started toward the end of the season.

        The Bengals were 23rd in the NFL in passing yards allowed and second to last with nine interceptions. Cincinnati gave up 26 touchdown passes.

        LeBeau praised Coyle and Garrett as positive additions. One of Garrett's major responsibilities will be breaking down game film.

        Garrett is a Princeton University graduate who played for the Bengals as a free agent in 1989 and coached for Cincinnati from 1995-98.


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