Paul Alexander is in his 20th straight season as Bengals offensive line coach, and he is also the team’s assistant head coach, having added that designation in 2003, when Marvin Lewis took over as head coach. He has 21 seasons overall with Cincinnati, having opened his tenure with one season as tight ends coach. His 21 seasons as a position coach are second-most in Bengals history, behind only Jim Anderson, who logged 29 seasons (1984-2012) as running backs coach.
Injuries kept Alexander busy with lineup shuffles in 2013, but the line delivered consistent quality play, helping lead Cincinnati to NFL rankings of third in fewest sacks allowed (29) and tied for sixth in scoring (26.9). Only Denver (20) and Detroit (23) allowed fewer sacks. The Bengals ranked 10th in net yards per game (368.4).
The highlight adjustment by the line last season came after starting LG Clint Boling suffered a season-ending knee injury on Dec. 1 at San Diego. The line did not miss a beat as LOT Andrew Whitworth finished the season at LG, with Anthony Collins taking over at LOT. Also in the second half of last season, when starting RG Kevin Zeitler missed time with a knee injury, Alexander had a capable replacement prepared in veteran Mike Pollak.
The Bengals have been in the NFL’s top 10 in fewest sacks allowed in three of the last four seasons. Twice previous to that, Alexander’s lines have led the Bengals to franchise records for fewest sacks allowed. Cincinnati posted a new best in the division championship season of 2005 with 21 sacks allowed, and that mark was bettered in 2007, with only 17 sacks surrendered.
Alexander lines have supported a 1000-yard individual rushing season 13 times. HB BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the last to do it, posting a career-best 1094 yards in 2012, his first season with Cincinnati. Other Bengals backs to post 1000-yard years behind an Alexander line have been Corey Dillon (six times), Rudi Johnson (three times) and Cedric Benson (three times).
In 2013, the offensive plan called for the hard-driving Green-Ellis to share carries with elusive rookie Giovani Bernard, and the line supported both styles as Green-Ellis rushed for 756 yards while Bernard had 695. Bernard’s total was the most by a No. 2 Bengals rusher since the Super Bowl season of 1988, when James Brooks had 931 to complement Ickey Woods’ 1066.
On Oct. 22, 2000, Alexander’s line shared the glory of a 278-yard rushing game by Corey Dillon vs. Denver. It was an NFL record at the time, and it still stands fourth in league annals entering the 2014 season. The Bengals’ 407 total rushing yards in that game ranks as the fifth-highest single-game total in NFL history, and as the most rushing yards in 62 years. The last team to top it was the N.Y. Giants, who gained 423 against Baltimore in 1950.
Alexander began his NFL coaching career in 1992 as tight ends coach of the N.Y. Jets, under head coach Bruce Coslet. In the college ranks, he coached under Joe Paterno at Penn State and Bo Schembechler at Michigan.
Alexander’s birthdate is Feb. 12, 1960. He’s a native of Rochester, N.Y., where he attended Cardinal Mooney High School. He played football and was an Academic All-American at Cortland State (N.Y.), and he holds a master’s degree in exercise physiology from Penn State. In 2012, he was inducted into the Cortland State Athletic Hall of Fame. Off the field, he is actively involved with the Boy Scouts and high school linemen camps.
Alexander is also a pianist, and in 2011 he authored a well-received book — “Perform” — linking the mentality and training techniques of top athletes and musicians.
He and his wife, Kathy, have three daughters — Mary Beth, Carolyn and Emily.
Playing and coaching history: 1979-81—Played offensive tackle, Cortland State. 1983-84—Graduate assistant, Penn State. 1985-86—Graduate assistant, Michigan. 1987-91—Assistant coach (AC), Central Michigan. 1992-93—AC, N.Y. Jets. 1994-2002—AC, Bengals. 2003-present—Assistant head coach/offensive line coach, Cincinnati Bengals.
A good 17 years before Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu got pranked in the first round of last year's draft, Paul Alexander pulled off a pretty good one during his first draft as the Bengals offensive line coach.
Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander is arriving at the NFL Scouting Combine two days early on Monday, but it won't be to scout prospective big men.