The Bengals have fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin just nine games into his first year on the job, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who adds that coach Marvin Lewis, a former defensive coordinator, will assume the role.
Cincinnati’s defense has been historically awful this season, allowing 509 yards in Sunday’s 51-14 loss to New Orleans, and as NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan notes, this unit has now allowed 4,091 yards in nine games. That average, 454.6 yards a game, would put them on pace to surpass the previous all-time record of 7,042 yards, held by the 2012 Saints.
This development comes more than a year after the Bengals fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese just two games into the 2017 season.
Lewis, who has been the Bengals’ head coach since 2003, had few answers for the defense’s effort against the Saints.
“It’s hard to speak for today,” he told reporters. “We talked about the other things we need to do better. We need to play better, and we need to do better on third downs. I looked up (at the scoreboard) at halftime, and they were six out of six on third downs. That’s the key to winning football games, and we’re not doing a good enough job right now.”
How bad has this group been? They’re the first defense in the Super Bowl era to give up 500 yards in three straight games. And it hasn’t been much prettier in the weeks before that; the Bengals have allowed fewer than 300 total yards just once all season.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati is still in the playoff hunt, which probably hastened the move. At 5-4, the Bengals currently hold the final wild-card spot, and with winnable upcoming games against the Ravens, Browns and Broncos, sorting out the defense now, though the timing isn’t great is preferable to doing nothing.
“I just kept saying, ‘let’s just get one stop’ and go from there,” veteran defensive end Michael Johnson told reporters Sunday afternoon. “In order to get two you have to get one. The whole time we were saying ‘let’s just get one’. We weren’t able to do that today. We will have to go back and be really critical of ourselves tomorrow as we come back and review the film. We just have to keep working.
And the Bengals thought the best chance for the players to do their jobs better was to move on from the defensive coordinator 10 weeks into the season.