Jonathan Hayes, an NFL tight end for 12 seasons, returns in 2014 for his 12th year as Bengals tight ends coach.
Hayes has been entrusted with two first-round draft choices over the last four seasons, and in 2013, both Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert were in the starting base offense, the first Bengals base to feature two tight ends.
The result? Gresham and Eifert combined for 85 catches for 903 yards and six TDs. Add in the contribution of veteran Alex Smith, and the Bengals’ division title effort included 88 catches and 915 yards by TEs. The reception total was the most in Bengals history for the position, topping 84 in 1981, and the yardage total ranked third, behind only 1091 in ’81 and 1012 in ’84.
In 2013, Gresham just missed joining Hall of Famer Mike Ditka as the only NFL tight ends to catch 50 or more passes in each of their first four seasons. Gresham had 46 catches entering last year’s season finale, but he was declared inactive to rehab a hamstring strain. (He returned to action the next week in the Wild Card playoff.) Gresham was named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster in 2011 and 2012. He is the first Bengals TE to log even as many as three consecutive seasons of 50 or more catches.
Eifert had 39 catches for 445 yards and two TDs in his rookie season, and even more is expected under Hayes’ continued direction.
Over Hayes’ tenure, his tight ends have contributed to run-blocking efforts that have produced seven 1000-yard rushers, including one each in four consecutive seasons from 2009-12. In 2013, the offensive plan called for the hard-driving BenJarvus Green-Ellis to share carries with elusive rookie Giovani Bernard, and the tight ends 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.
The tight ends under Hayes also have contributed to pass blocking efforts that twice helped Cincinnati set a club record for fewest sacks allowed. A record of 21 was set in 2005, and that mark was re-written at 17 in ’07.
Prior to joining the Bengals, Hayes spent four years (1999-2002) at the University of Oklahoma as tight ends coach and special teams coordinator. He helped the Sooners to a four-year record of 44-9, including a 13-0 mark in 2000 for the NCAA championship.
Under Hayes’ tutelage, tight end Trent Smith finished his Oklahoma career in 2002 as the school’s No. 2 all-time receiver, with 148 catches. Also in 2002, Sooners special teams blocked seven kicks and had three punt returns for TDs.
Hayes began his NFL playing career in 1985 with the Kansas City Chiefs, as a second-round draft pick out of Iowa. He played for the Chiefs through 1993, serving as a team captain, and closed his NFL career with three seasons in Pittsburgh (‘94-96). He had 153 career receptions for 1718 yards with 13 TDs.
He saw action in 184 NFL games with 122 starts, and he played all 16 games in each of his final six seasons. He played in three AFC Championship games and a Super Bowl (for Pittsburgh vs. Dallas in SB XXX).
At the University of Iowa, he earned first-team All-America honors as a senior TE and was a team captain. He holds a degree from Iowa in general studies.
Hayes’ older brother, Jay, is Bengals defensive line coach.
Hayes’ hometown is South Fayette, Pa. He attended South Fayette High School. He and his wife have four children.
Playing and coaching history: 1981-84—Played linebacker and tight end, Iowa. 1985-93—Played tight end, Kansas City Chiefs. 1994-96—Played tight end, Pittsburgh Steelers. 1999-2002—Assistant coach (AC), Oklahoma. 2003-present—AC, Cincinnati Bengals.