It's going to be an interesting offseason in Cincinnati now that Marvin Lewis is reportedly done with the Bengals. For the first time in 15 years, the Bengals are going to have to conduct a coaching search, which is always an adventure in Cincinnati and that's mainly because of the way the team's ownership is structured under Mike Brown. Basically, Brown is the entire structure and he has final say on all decisions. There's a reason Lewis lasted for 15 years with the Bengals despite winning zero playoff games and that reason is because Brown is loyal and also loves having a coach he's familiar with. The Bengals almost never go outside the organization to make a hire, which is why it will be interesting to watch their coaching search take place. When Lewis was hired in 2003, he became the first Bengals coach since 1980 -- and just second in team history -- who was hired without having any prior ties to the organization. The Bengals just love hiring a familiar face. Well, Brown loves hiring a familiar face, and that's where this search will get interesting. If the 82-year-old Brown is handling things, he may very well go with a familiar face. If Brown let's his daughter, Katie Blackburn, who also happens to be the team's executive vice president, handle things, then we might see an outside candidate get hired like we did with Lewis. Remember, the Bengals don't have a general manager, so that position won't have any say in a potential new coach. With all of that in mind, let's take a look at five candidates (plus two bonus candidates). And keep in mind, we're going offensive heavy with our coaching candidates because that's what the Bengals need right now. Internal candidates Paul Guenther and Darrin Simmons If the Bengals decide to go with someone who's already on the coaching staff, it's almost certainly going to be Guenther or Simmons. Guenther, who took over the Bengals defensive coordinator after Mike Zimmer left in 2014, has been with the organization since 2005. Guether is in his fourth season as the team's defensive coordinator and under his watch, the Bengals defense has been one of the team's most reliable units. The team has ranked in the top-10 of fewest points surrendered a total of two times over the past four years, which is always a good thing when you have an erratic offense like the Bengals do. The other in-house candidate for the Bengals is special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. Simmons has been with the team since Lewis was hired in 2003 and if the Bengals want some continuity, then going with the 44-year-old Simmons would definitely accomplish that. One thing Simmons has going for him is that he's well-liked by the players and the front office. Outside candidates familiar with the Bengals Hue Jackson and Jay Gruden These might seem like two crazy options, but as I already mentioned, the Bengals loving hiring a familiar face and no one fits the bill more than Jackson and Gruden. Although Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has insisted that Jackson will be returning to Cleveland next season, there's no guarantee that's going to happen now that general manager John Dorsey is in charge. If Dorsey wants to bring in his own guy, it wouldn't be shocking at all to see him dump Jackson at the end of the year. Although Jackson hasn't worked out in Cleveland, he could be a great fit in Cincinnati. Remember that one year when Andy Dalton was somehow in the MVP conversation? That came in 2015 when Jackson was running the Bengals offense. Jackson was on the Bengals staff from 2004 to 2006 and then returned in 2012. He served as offensive coordinator for two seasons (2014-2015) and knows how to get the most out of Dalton.
Marvin Lewis out: Here are seven candidates Bengals should look at to replace him
CBS Sports | Dec 18