The Cincinnati Bengals have promoted linebackers coach Paul Guenther to defensive coordinator.
He has coached the Bengals' linebackers for the past two seasons, including Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Guenther replaces Mike Zimmer, who was named head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. Zimmer had been Bengals defensive coordinator since 2008.
Last season, as the Bengals finished 11-5 to win the AFC North Division championship, the defense ranked first in the AFC and third in the NFL in fewest yards allowed (305.5), despite suffering significant major injuries. The Bengals ranked tied for fifth in the NFL in fewest points allowed (19.1).
“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,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “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.”
“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.”
As for Zimmer, Lewis commented on the veteran coach getting the job in Minnesota.
“Zim did a tremendous job for us, and it’s fantastic that he is getting this opportunity now to be a head coach. I’ve talked many times about what he brought to our defense, and to me as the head coach. He has the players’ trust. He does a great job of identifying who to push, and when.
“He is also exceptionally thorough. Everything in the gameplan is done with a thoroughness, and every player down to the last one is properly prepared. I’m happy for Zim and wish him all my best.”
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.