The Cincinnati Bengals are seeing many of their top coaches snatched away. In the NFL, being a hot commodity usually equates to landing in another city. But, the Bengals did what was expected by many. They promoted from within and moved quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese to offensive coordinator. Instead of a new hire, they made a change that would keep the offense moving forward.
In 2015, Andy Dalton and the offense made huge strides. Dalton improved drastically in interception rate, touchdown rate and yards per attempt this past season for career highs. He also set a Bengals’ franchise record for passer rating (106.2) and achieved a career high in completion percentage (66.2).
With the promotion of Ken Zampese, the structure, continuity and language of the playbook will stay relatively the same. Having Dalton, and the weapons around him, comfortable will be monumental to keep things moving forward. This keeps a system in place that was one of the most dangerous in the league.
Zampese has served as quarterbacks coach for all 13 seasons under Marvin Lewis. His patience has seen two offensive coordinators come and go. But, his hiring keeps the momentum going for the Bengals. Keeping things the same, while making strides to get better, will be paramount for the offensive unit in 2016.
As Hue Jackson walked out the door, despite last-minute efforts to keep him, the Bengals made a logical and wise move. Though Jackson gets most of the credit, Zampese has done wonders as the only positional coach Dalton has worked under. With Zampese’s direction, Carson Palmer led the Bengals to the postseason two years after he was drafted first overall, and Andy Dalton has guided them to the playoffs the past five seasons.
Zampese interviewed for a few other offensive coordinator openings during his 13 years in Cincinnati, but he said he always felt comfortable in Cincinnati.
“It’s something I hoped for, for a long time,” Zampese said. “Opportunities come when they come. You don’t force it. When it’s right, it happens. Here it is right now and here we go.”
“Ken has been in the offensive room over the years with our past coordinators, and he understands my vision about our future,” Lewis said. “It’s time for him to really put his hands on it now and advance the development. He has been Andy Dalton’s position coach, and Andy has just kept on getting better, so we’ve obviously got some good continuity working there.”
“Helps Andy and continues with the development of our quarterbacks with their role in the offense and not have to re-learn, change, teach somebody what we are doing new that way,” Lewis explained on Friday, per The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Zampese said he was content to stay in Cincinnati after getting passed over twice in the last five years.
“I never looked at it like that,” Zampese stated. “I felt very fortunate to work here and in the NFL, especially here when your input is valued at all times. That goes a long way. It’s always been like that here.”
The move to Ken Zampese is going to make the transition a smooth one for the Bengals offense. Dalton developed a mastery of the playbook and the awareness to check into any play which fits against the defensive setup. For that reason, bringing in a coordinator with another scheme, ideas and new playbook would have been a step backwards. Considering the personnel will largely stay the same, Zampese was the obvious choice.
The Bengals look to remain the high-powered offense that gave defenses fits. With Zampese and Dalton calling plays, the attack will be just as potent. The change will allow the Bengals to keep moving forward.
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