CINCINNATI (AP) — Different coordinators, same systems, same head coach. The Bengals will be slightly different next season as they try to end one of the NFL's longest runs of playoff misery.
The Bengals promoted linebackers coach Paul Guenther to defensive coordinator on Thursday, keeping continuity for a unit that finished No. 3 in the NFL last season. The move came one day after the Minnesota Vikings hired Mike Zimmer as their head coach.
It's also the second time in two weeks that Cincinnati replaced a coordinator with an in-house candidate. They elevated running backs coach Hue Jackson to offensive coordinator after Jay Gruden was hired by the Redskins as head coach.
"We're going to have some new coaches, and it's great for us," coach Marvin Lewis said on Thursday. "Some new blood, some new energy. Because we can't be the same. We don't get to be the same. We've got to be better in 2014 than we were in '13, and that's what our quest is right away."
The Bengals won the AFC North this season, but couldn't shake their legacy of flaming out in the playoffs. They lost to San Diego 27-10 in the opening round at Paul Brown Stadium, making it 23 years since they last won a playoff game, tied for the sixth-longest streak in NFL history.
They've also tied the NFL record by losing their opening game three years in a row. And Lewis is 0-5 in the playoffs during his 11 seasons in Cincinnati, trailing Jim Mora by one for the most consecutive playoff losses to start a coaching career.
"I want to still be playing a year from now," said Lewis, who is entering the final year on his contract.
The Bengals are the first team since the 2006 San Diego Chargers to lose both coordinators to head coaching jobs elsewhere, according to STATS LLC.
Zimmer presided over one of the Bengals' best stretches of defense during his six seasons in Cincinnati. The Bengals finished in the Top 10 for fewest yards allowed in four of the last five seasons. Guenther has spent nine seasons on Cincinnati's coaching staff, the last two with the linebackers. He worked with Zimmer to formulate the defensive plays.