Stats, ba­sics, ros­ters, coaches, depth chart

Packer Plus - - News - JIM OWCZARSKI USA TO­DAY SPORTS Jim Owczarski writes for the Cincin­nati En­quirer, part of the USA TO­DAY Net­work.

A solemn Marvin Lewis met with the me­dia Fri­day at 1 p.m. at Paul Brown Sta­dium and preached bet­ter ex­e­cu­tion and preparation on of­fense, but did not im­me­di­ately an­nounce any changes to the staff or start­ing per­son­nel.

That changed soon af­ter, when it was con­firmed by The En­quirer the Ben­gals let go of of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Ken Zam­pese, who took over for Hue Jack­son in 2016. The club made the change of­fi­cial at 2:30 p.m.

Quar­ter­backs coach Bill La­zor will as­sume play-call­ing du­ties. He is the lone mem­ber of the of­fen­sive staff to have that ex­pe­ri­ence, serv­ing as the Mi­ami Dol­phins’ of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor from 2014 and through most of 2015.

Lewis did not meet with the me­dia af­ter the move, but the team re­leased a state­ment.

“Ken Zam­pese has done a tremen­dous job for us for my 15 years here, and I have the ut­most re­spect for Ken as a per­son and as a coach. But I feel it best for the foot­ball team to breathe new life into the of­fense, and that’s why I am mak­ing the change. Bill La­zor has great ex­pe­ri­ence in the league and as a co­or­di­na­tor, and I feel Bill can progress our of­fense the way we need. We have a lot of tal­ent on of­fense, and we need to keep work­ing to take full ad­van­tage of the per­son­nel we have.”

In the 50-year his­tory of the fran­chise, Zam­pese is the first co­or­di­na­tor to be dis­missed in sea­son. Pre­vi­ously, other co­or­di­na­tors had changed po­si­tions due to head coach­ing changes.

In 2004, Lewis took over de­fen­sive play-call­ing du­ties from co­or­di­na­tor Les­lie Fra­zier but Fra­zier was not fired in-sea­son.

Zam­pese had been with the Ben­gals for 15 sea­sons, com­ing in with Lewis in 2003 as the team’s quar­ter­backs coach.

Cited by Lewis as some­one who could keep the mo­men­tum of 2015’s of­fen­sive pace go­ing due to his fa­mil­iar­ity with Andy Dal­ton and long ten­ure un­der three dif­fer­ent co­or­di­na­tors, Zam­pese’s unit strug­gled might­ily in 18 reg­u­lar-sea­son games un­der his di­rec­tion.

Af­ter 0-2 start, the Ben­gals scored a to­tal of nine points and to­taled 516 yards of to­tal of­fense with­out a touch­down.

Dur­ing his ini­tial press con­fer­ence on Fri­day, Lewis was asked if all things were on the table re­gard­ing staff or per­son­nel changes, and he orig­i­nally said, “We have to get bet­ter but I’m never go­ing to come in here and tell you any­thing we’re go­ing to do with one an­other. What we do is pri­vate to us.”

When asked if he’s com­mit­ted to Zam­pese, Lewis smiled.

“Again, I told you. I just an­swered. It’s a nice try though.”

Lewis was asked a fol­lowup “so no changes?”

“We’re not go­ing to dis­cuss any of that in here.”

In­stead, Lewis preached his theme of bet­ter ex­e­cu­tion.

“It in­volves ev­ery­body, it in­volves all of us,” Lewis said of the lack of ex­e­cu­tion on of­fense. “It’s how we for­mu­late our plan, how we ex­e­cute our plan, how the plan is called all the way through. We’ve got to make sure we’re do­ing the right things with our peo­ple and attacking the op­po­nent as well.”

It has been a rough 18 reg­u­lar-sea­son games for the of­fense un­der Zam­pese, who was pro­moted to the po­si­tion be­fore last year af­ter Hue Jack­son took the head coach­ing job in Cleve­land.

In 2016, the Ben­gals fin­ished 13th in to­tal of­fense (they were in the top 10 be­fore sea­son-end­ing in­juries to A.J. Green and Gio­vani Bernard in late Novem­ber) and 24th in scor­ing. The team strug­gled might­ily in the red zone, scor­ing touch­downs 53.7 per­cent of the time, 18th in the league.

They are 0 for 6 in six red zone trips this year, com­ing away com­pletely empty on half of those.

In 2015, the Ben­gals scored touch­downs at a 65 per­cent clip, which was No. 6 in the NFL. In 2014, the Ben­gals were 10th in the red zone in scor­ing.

Oddly, those co­or­di­na­tors and head coaches who Zam­pese worked for prior to his pro­mo­tion in 2016 felt that the red zone and plan­ning for suc­cess within it was one of his great­est strengths as an of­fen­sive mind.

But the prob­lems con­tin­ued into 2017 for the Ben­gals.

The first team of­fense was on the field for nine pos­ses­sions through the first three ex­hi­bi­tion games but pro­duced one touch­down and 13 points against two turnovers by Dal­ton (in­clud­ing one in the red zone) and three punts. One drive ended the half in Wash­ing­ton.

In those pre­sea­son games, the Ben­gals first team of­fense ran 68 plays and gained only 337 yards (4.95 yards per play). They were 1 for 3 in the red zone, with their lone touch­down com­ing in Wash­ing­ton.

Then against Bal­ti­more in the opener, 58 plays were run for 221 yards (3.8 avg.) with no points and a 0 for 3 in the red zone.

Thurs­day night in the 13-9 loss to the Hous­ton Tex­ans, it was more of the same, as the Ben­gals ran 62 plays for 295 yards (4.8 avg.) and were 0 for 3 again in the red zone.

The Ben­gals be­came the first since the 1939 Philadel­phia Ea­gles to open a year with two home games and not reach the end zone.

One of the rea­sons for the of­fen­sive funk the club has been in to start this sea­son is that Dal­ton has put to­gether two of his worst per­for­mances in years. He was bet­ter on Thurs­day night than a dis­as­trous five­turnover Week 1 game against Bal­ti­more, but through two games Dal­ton has com­pleted just 55 per­cent of his passes.

Lewis in­sisted Thurs­day night that not only was Dal­ton’s job safe, but he didn’t feel the sev­enth-year quar­ter­back had re­gressed.


Ben­gals quar­ter­back Andy Dal­ton talks with for­mer of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Ken Zam­pese. Zam­pese was fired Fri­day af­ter the Ben­gals’ of­fense strug­gled in its first two games.

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