The Cincinnati Bengals have officially announced the promotion of linebacker coach Paul Guenther to defensive coordinator. He replaces Mike Zimmer after he was hired to be the next head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.
Here is the release from Bengals Public Relations:
Paul Guenther, entering his 12th season as an NFL coach and his 10th with the Bengals, was named today as Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator. Guenther has spent the last two seasons as Bengals linebackers coach, overseeing the rapid development of a number of young players, including 2013 season Pro Bowl selection Vontaze Burfict.
“Paul has been Zim’s right-hand man the last few years, so we’re moving in the direction of keeping a good thing going with our defense,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “He knows what we do and how we do it, and he had a hand in creating it. Paul and I have been mostly together since when we were both on the Redskins staff (in 2002). I’ve seen him grow over the years and really have sort of been grooming him for this kind of opportunity.”
Guenther’s premier player project has been Burfict, who joined the Bengals from the college free agent ranks in 2012, Guenther’s first season as LBs coach. Burfict has been one of the NFL’s most prolific tacklers in each of his two seasons and is in this season’s Pro Bowl after leading the team with 204 tackles.
Also in 2013, the Bengals saw the strong emergence of third-year LB Vincent Rey, another original college free agent signee. Guenther meanwhile oversaw an improved 2013 performance from starting MLB Rey Maualuga, a fifth-year player, and Guenther worked well with five-time Pro Bowler James Harrison, who had a productive season at age 35 after joining the Bengals as a free agent.
“I’m obviously very excited about this opportunity,” Guenther said. “I like the players we have and what we’ve already done to get a good defensive team in place. I’m looking forward to working with all of them, in a new role for me, and continuing to improve us and make us better.
“I want to thank Mike Brown and Marvin for all they’ve done for me over the years and now for this chance. And I also want to thank Zim for working with me so closely and helping me become a better coach.”
The 42-year-old Guenther played LB from 1990-93 at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa. and coached in the college ranks for seven seasons before entering the NFL.
He was the youngest head coach in college football in 1997, when at age 25 he took the reins at Ursinus for a tenure that would last four seasons and include two playoff berths. He joined the NFL with the Washington Redskins in 2002.
Guenther joined the Bengals in 2005, but before taking over the LB coach position, he worked primarily as an assistant position coach with LBs, special teams and the defensive backs.