Cincinnati Bengals fire defensive coordinator Teryl Austin
Not long ago, Teryl Austin was receiving head-coaching interviews. Now he’s out as Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator.
The Bengals announced they have fired Austin following their 51-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis announced that he — not LB coach Jim Haslett — will be running the defense from here out.
“I appreciate the hard work that Coach Austin has put into our football team, but I felt it best to make a change at this point in time, and I wish him the best,” Lewis said in statement. “I will be coordinating the defense from here on out and I am excited to do that. This football team has a real chance to get back to playing winning football so we can compete for the playoffs, and that is our sole focus.”
That now brings the Bengals’ season total of points allowed to 288. They’ve also allowed 4,091 yards, putting them on pace for 7,272, which would surpass the record set by the 2012 New Orleans Saints (7,042). The Bengals currently reside in the bottom five of most defensive category rankings, and they also set a record by becoming the first team in the Super Bowl era to give up 500 or more yards in three straight games.
That’s now two straight seasons Lewis has fired a coordinator in-season after he had never done it during his first 14 years at the helm — and the first two in-season coordinator firings in the franchise’s history. Lewis replaced offensive coordinator Ken Zampese following the team’s 0-2 start last season; that move paid off with Bill Lazor improving the results dramatically since then.
It’s not clear, however, if a move from Austin will make that big an immediate improvement, even with Lewis running the defense. The Bengals are without several defensive contributors now, although their issues on that side of the ball have been present since before injuries started mounting.
The Bengals are 5-4 and still very much in the thick of the playoffs race, with divisional games upcoming against the Ravens and Browns the next two games. Those could be games in which the defense faces rookie quarterbacks, as Lamar Jackson could start for an injured Joe Flacco for Baltimore and Baker Mayfield, who is coming off one of his best games for Cleveland.
Austin was in his first season with the Bengals after spending the previous four seasons as the Detroit Lions’ defensive coordinator. He interviewed for the Lions’ head-coaching vacancy in January before that job went to Matt Patricia, and Austin had four prevous head-coaching interviews dating back to 2016, only for some of which he felt he was a legitimate candidate.