Paul Alexander is in his 21st 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 22 seasons overall with Cincinnati, having opened his tenure with one season as tight ends coach. His 22 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.
Alexander’s 2014 line led a pass protection effort that ranked third in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed (23) as the Bengals reached the playoffs a fourth straight season. Cincinnati also ranked third in least sack yardage allowed (130), and the line helped power a rushing game that averaged 4.4 yards per carry, the Bengals’ best figure since 2000.
The line adjusted well in the face of injuries. ROT Andre Smith was lost for the season with a triceps tear on Nov. 23 at Houston, and starting RG Kevin Zeitler was in and out of the lineup due to calf problems. Alexander’s lineup shuffles included two weeks with starting LG Clint Boling moving to ROT. The Bengals had four different starters at ROT on the year.
The Bengals have been in the NFL’s top 10 in fewest sacks allowed in four of the last five seasons, and twice previous to that, Alexander’s lines led the team 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 14 times, including 1124 yards (with a 5.1 per-carry average) for rookie Jeremy Hill last season. Other Bengals backs to post 1000-yard years behind an Alexander line have been Corey Dillon (six times), Rudi Johnson (three times), Cedric Benson (three times) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (once).
The Bengals ranked sixth in the NFL in 2014 in rushing yards per game (134.2), as the line meshed well with the power-running Hill and also with a shifty, smaller HB in second-year pro Giovani Bernard (680 rushing yards despite missing three games with injuries). Cincinnati’s offensive rushing ranking was its highest since a second-place finish in 2000.
Alexander is the only current Bengals assistant whose tenure with the team predates Marvin Lewis. 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.
Paul 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, Cincinnati Bengals. 2003-present—Assistant head coach/offensive line coach, 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.