James Urban returns in 2016 for his sixth season as Bengals wide receivers coach. His group has helped lead the Bengals to the playoffs in each of the last five seasons, and he has had success not only in nurturing the considerable talent of A.J. Green, but also in developing a corps of players who can contribute.
That latter challenge will continue for Urban in 2016, as he has to some extent been the victim of his own success. Two wide receivers who were productive while playing with Green — mid-round 2012 draft choices Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu — have departed the Bengals in free agency in ’16, signing lucrative contracts for the opportunity to become No. 1s with other teams.
Green’s Bengals career began under Urban in 2011. Green has been to the Pro Bowl in each of his five seasons to date, the only player in club history to make it in seasons 1-5. With a team-leading 1297 yards in 2015, Green joined Randy Moss of Minnesota as the only NFL receivers to top 1000 yards in each of their first five seasons. Green’s 24 career games of 100 or more receiving yards rank second in Bengals history to Chad Johnson’s 31, and Johnson took 10 seasons to compile his total.
For his five Bengals seasons, Green has averaged 83 receptions, 1234 yards and nine TDs. In 2013, Green and Marvin Jones became the only Bengals WR duo to each get 10 or more TDs in a season. Jones is the only Bengal to have caught four TD passes in a game, doing that in 2013 against the Jets.
In 2011, his first Bengals season, Urban had a big job, charged with leading an inexperienced receiving corps into a new offensive scheme. The presence of a rookie quarterback (Andy Dalton) and limited preparation time (due to NFL labor issues) increased the challenge. But the results were more than favorable, as the young receivers immediately developed a rapport with Dalton and saw continued production throughout the season and into a playoff game that preseason forecasters had deemed out of reach for the young team.
Dalton and Green both made the 2011 season Pro Bowl. In Green’s pro debut at Cleveland, he made the longest game-winning TD catch (41 yards) in NFL history by a rookie playing in his team’s season opener. In Green’s second game, he and Dalton became the first (and still only) rookie QB-WR duo to combine for 10 completions in a game. Prior to joining the Bengals, Urban was Philadelphia Eagles QBs coach in 2009 and ’10, where he helped direct Pro Bowl seasons for Donovan McNabb (’09) and Michael Vick (’10). In ’10, Vick earned accolades as the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year and was the NFC starter in the Pro Bowl. Urban spent seven total seasons with the Eagles (2004-10). He was assistant to the head coach from ’04-06 and was offensive quality control coach in ’07 and ’08. During his seven Philadelphia seasons, the Eagles earned five playoff berths and won three division titles. He first worked with the Eagles in 2003, serving as a coaching intern while employed full-time at the University of Pennsylvania.
A native of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Urban played in college at Washington and Lee (Lexington, Va.) as a wide receiver and kick returner. He worked for seven years in the college ranks — at Clarion (Pa.) University and at Penn — before joining the Eagles. James and his wife, Patrice, have two daughters, Brielle and Cassidy, and a son, Jameson. James holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Washington and Lee and a master’s degree in communications from Clarion.
Playing and coaching history: 1992-95—Played wide receiver, Washington and Lee. 1997-98—Assistant coach (AC), Clarion. 1999- 2003—Director of football administration/operations, Pennsylvania. 2004-10— AC, Philadelphia Eagles. 2011-present—AC, Cincinnati Bengals.