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.