Given that it is now ‘Facebook Official’, so to speak, I suppose we can talk about it. Following previous reports that Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator intended to join the then-non-existent coaching staff of Jon Gruden with the Oakland Raiders, the Ohio team has all but confirmed that by hiring a new defensive coordinator.
Made official yesterday, the new defensive coordinator for the Bengals is now Teryl Austin, who comes over from the Detroit Lions, where he held that same post since 2014. The added twist is that Gruden also wanted Austin for his Raiders staff, sweetening the pot to give him the title of assistant head coach while being responsible for the defensive backs.
Austin’s background is actually working in the secondary. He began his coaching career in the collegiate ranks with Wake Forest in that role. Breaking into the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks as their defensive backs coach in 2003 through 2006, he then held the same role with the Arizona Cardinals for three years, during which his unit gave up a game-winning touchdown drive to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl.
He is not unfamiliar with the AFC North, either. He was actually the defensive backs coach for the Baltimore Ravens from 2011 to 2013 before he was poached by the Lions for the promotion to defensive coordinator. Now he is back in the division calling the Bengals’ defense.
While his unit may have lost to the Steelers in the Super Bowl while with the Cardinals, his Ravens secondary was part of a Super Bowl championship team in 2012. Given that the Bengals have not even won a playoff game in decades, it is probably nice to bring in that sort of experience.
And it makes sense to bring in a coach whose specialty is in the defensive backfield, since that is the area of the defense that the team has prioritized over the years, drafting a number of cornerbacks in the first round, from Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph to Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, and, most recently, William Jackson III.
Austin is a native of Sharon, Pennsylvania and attended the University of Pittsburgh as a three-year starter in—shockingly—the secondary. His best season came in 1985 when he intercepted seven passes, returning them for a combined 186 yards, though with no scores. He intercepted 10 passes in total.
Following his college career, he spent one season attempting to make it as a professional, playing for the Montreal Machine in the World League of American Football. Following that, he became a graduate assistant for Penn State for two years beginning in 1991 before moving on to Wake Forest with a formal post.