‘Near Mutiny’ Prompted Ouster Of OC In Cincinnati, But Dalton’s Job Safe

I don’t normally like to make references to Mike Florio and Pro Football Talk directly unless it concerns an interview on the show or on topics pertaining to legal matters and things like that, but in this case I have to.

You may have seen yesterday that the Cincinnati Bengals, following a pair of games at home to open the season in which they scored a combined nine points, with no touchdowns, elected to fire their offensive coordinator, Ken Zampese, 18 games into his tenure after taking over for Hue Jackson at the start of the 2016 season.

According to Florio, the site was told by a league source that the firing of Zampese essentially became necessary after head coach Marvin Lewis faced “a near mutiny” in the locker room. Even the typically staid A.J. Green was publicly vocal in expressing his distaste for the team’s start to the season and suggested in part that he needs to get the ball more.

Florio contends that they were informed Green’s comments were just the tip of the iceberg in a locker room that is frankly potentially still reeling from last seasons’ dismal outing, missing the playoffs and facing a losing record for the first time in Green’s career.

While Jackson is rightfully praised for his offensive mind and what he was able to do with the Bengals’ offense while he was the offensive coordinator, I do think that Zampese’s brief tenure in that role is entitled to some contextualization.

For one thing, he has been a part of the organization since 2003, Carson Palmer’s rookie season, while Jon Kitna was still their starter. He was the quarterbacks coach through the entirety of Palmer’s career in Cincinnati and for all of Andy Dalton’s time there, short of the past two seasons since he ascended in the hierarchy to offensive coordinator.

More importantly is the fact that his ascent into that role also coincided with some significant personnel changes. Last year alone, the offense lost three starters in wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, as well as right tackle Andre Smith, and all three of those spots were issues last year, and remain as such this year.

It has only gotten worse since then with the losses of their two best offensive linemen. Frankly, Dalton has been under constant pressure this season, having been sacked eight times so far this year. He is only completing 54.5 percent of his passes and has yet to throw a touchdown (obviously) against his four interceptions.

Despite his awful start, and the fact that the Bengals are high on backup A.J. McCarron, Lewis has already affirmed that Dalton’s starting job is under no threat.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • DoctorNoah

    What do you call it when you take a large pile of angry, smelly trash, pour some kerosene on it and light it up? Oh yeah – a DUMPSTER FIRE.

  • Rob H

    One word, “scapegoat.”
    This implosion was easy to predict, but even I didn’t think it would happen this quickly.
    What I find funny is how many people are putting all of the blame for this trainwreck on Lewis. He does shoulder a lot of the blame, and has become the stereotypical enabler, but the majority of the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Mike Brown.
    I’m sure many Steeler fans just don’t follow the rest of the NFL enough to realize it, but Brown is both the owner AND the GM of this disaster, he’s the one who assembled this group of misfits, mostly because he could get guys with talent on the cheap, because of their character issues.
    He has proven over the years that his primary goal is to make the team competitive enough to keep the money coming in, reaching the next level of legitimate SB contender would have just been a bonus, one I’m happy to see isn’t going to happen, at least not unless he decides at some point to sell the team, which I highly doubt.

  • RickM

    It’s the self-preservation reflex that we see from many head coaches. They won’t fire themselves for failing to address the O-Line in free agency and the draft. The scapegoat will be the OC. We don’t usually see the HC panicking after two games, but that likely reflects a guy who knows his future is finally at stake.

  • Jeff McNeill

    They need to fire the owner because that is where the blame really lies. They have a culture that starts there and permeates all the way down. Since that is illogical, I think it would take a complete change of philosophy from the owner and then a complete change of front office and coaching to fix the problems with that team. Since I have no love for that team, or the Ravens and Browns, it does not pain me to see how they conduct business. The Steelers once need a major shift and they got when Dan Rooney, god rest his soul, took over the running of the team.

  • Nolrog

    Maybe they should look in the mirror and find out what they were doing wrong and how they could perform better. Because a new guy isn’t going to change that.

  • francesco

    The problem is coach Lewis for not putting AJ McCarron as the QB to see if he could be the difference.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    Ah, the Bungholes!!!
    A hard group to understand. Why would they let so much talent walk two years in a row? I mean it’s not like they actually won anything even BEFORE they let their entire WR corps and half their O line walk!!

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    The Brown family has always been cheap – even the old man was a skinflint.
    They make the usually frugal Rooneys look like Daddy Warbucks!!

  • Many more rides on the #EscaLOSER ahead!

  • Edjhjr

    Marvin is in the last year of his deal.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    chaos in cincy is good news for the steelers

  • Jim Foles

    Maybe the problem is the Red Ryder BB Gun

  • Jim Foles

    Steelers don’t care but Cleveland will be in 2nd place at the end of the season.

  • Jim Foles

    Crap! They need to keep him for 5 more years.

  • Jim Foles

    Your right.. “The problem is coach Lewis”

  • dany

    Other than steelers-bengals game I don’t follow them, but their O was a monster with Hue in 15, their D continued to give Ben jitters last year so I think they’re still great, but their O was a dumpster fire both games. I get trying to keep it in house but perhaps he wasn’t the best option to replace Hue. Another in house option, safe, they just gotta hope he’s more outside the box like Hue than Zampese

  • michael young

    This stinks of Lewis needed a scapegoat to preserve his status within the organization. It gives them a built in excuse for their performance. It can’t be the players or the HC. It must be Zampese.

    I do know he wasn’t the reason Daulton overthrew a wide open Lafells against the Texans. How awful of a miss was that? Seriously, I’ve never seen a receiver that was that’s wide open get overthrown by that much.

  • Brenton deed

    Ascension or ascent not ascend. Anyway grammar police aside… ( ecocide my pain-in-the-arse tendencies)
    Rebuilding the OL is most important…. but sorry f*** off coach Munch is tied up until 2030 … name your price… no!

  • Gregg

    “contextualization”………never heard that before…….but I like it!

    Maybe the Bengals need more talent and better execution as well.

  • Talyn Scarbrough

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the Bungels at it again.

  • john bennett

    So what happens when they get shut out in Green Bay….they fire the water boy?

  • john bennett

    They extend Burfict while he’s suspended for …what….the third time… and don’t keep decent Oline players and wide receivers and they expect to succeed. Good luck with that…

  • will

    Ratbirds

  • nutty32

    McCarron stinks. Daulton is not great but has experience.

  • nutty32

    Great point about the loss of the WR corp. They used to have weapons all over that field.

  • Alan Tman

    Just goes to show that you cannot skimp on the line of scrimmage. Just check NYG, CINN, or Seattle. Skill positions mean nothing if you don’t have a decent O-line.

  • Big Joe

    I will say that the play calling did kind of suck but Dalton was very much also to blame for both losses.

  • Big Joe

    Well, this continues to go back to the owner’s desire to match the physicality of Pittsburgh and Baltimore and not be considered a finesse team. Their issue is that the physical nature of the team is based on a core cadre of players whose character and punk-ish style of play isn’t what most people would want representing their team. The owner apparently doesn’t really care that the image of his team sucks – at least to me anyway.

  • AndreH

    I not surprised at all…the organization is a dumpster fire. Marvin Lewis has allowed the inmates to run the asylum. Don’t get me wrong there are some quality character guys on that team but the Vontaze Burfict’s and Adam Jones’ of the world are just rotten to the core. Coach Lewis by all accounts is good person and well respected around the league by his peers. This team is lost cause…he should jump off now before its start taking on more water. But that never happen because Mike Brown doesn’t believe in paying people who are not on his team. It must have taken some serious arm twisting to get Brown’s approval to fire Zampese.

  • LucasY59

    That locker room has been falling apart since the loss in the playoffs 2 yrs ago (and they totally deserve it) they will keep falling until some serious changes are made (and it isnt switching the OC)

    Marvin Lewis is a joke that keeps mutinous players around, pacman and confict are probably the 1st to speak out and are some how leaders of the team??? (in the case of the offense being terrible they arent wrong, but IMO the bigger problem (for them) is daLOLton) so it wont be long before players start turning on their teammates as well (since they got away with it against the cordinator) but luckily for Marv they wont turn on him (since he has their backs)

    IF the bungles continue to be terrible this yr there is a concern that they will be picking at the top of the draft and that could be a problem since Andy’s contract doesnt have much guaranteed $ left on it and they could easily get rid of him, and since the upcoming draft looks to have a lot of QB talent that could be a problem, maybe they make another Akili Smith type pick…Lamar Jackson??? (Lamar has more talent tho) and hopefully its not another Carson Palmer (Sam Darnold?) the Cinci O has some serious talent (Green, Eifert, Boyd, Ross, Mixon) and could be trouble if they didnt have a choke artist at QB (the poor OL play has helped them be bad so far this yr as well)

    the other reason them deciding to move on from Dalton would be bad for the Steelers is that Pittsburgh might be looking for the heir to Ben in the draft so them picking a QB makes one less available when the Steelers pick

    Like I kinda mentioned already I dont expect the bungles to turn it all around unless Lewis gets axed (and the team clears out all of the mess…Vontaze and Jones should be gone shortly after a decent coach shows up) the good thing is that the bungles owner is just as bad if not worse than anyone already mentioned, he just gave confict an extension (despite the thug starting the season suspended…for the 2nd yr in a row)

    The re-build shoulve started 2 yrs ago when two idiot players lost a playoff game for them (shouldve been told to empty their lockers immediately after) and then keep Hue Jackson (instead of Lewis) they wouldve stuggled last yr, and probably this yr (but that helps them to decide to get a replacement at QB) the team has some really good players, Atkins and Green are the guys they should be building around

  • Mister Wirez

    Marvin Lewis should have been fired after the melt down loss to the Steelers in that 2015 playoff game. He can’t control his players and seems soft. #BUNGLES!

  • Jim Foles

    Ratbirds will lose today.

  • will

    Do you have any stock picks for us?