James Urban returns in 2015 for his fifth season as Bengals wide receivers coach. His group has helped lead the Bengals to the playoffs in each of the last four seasons, and he has had success not only in nurturing the considerable talent of A.J. Green, but also in developing a deep corps of players who can contribute.
Green is also in his fifth Bengals season in 2011, and for his previous four campaigns he has averaged 83 receptions, 1219 yards and nine touchdowns. The 2014 season saw Green slowed significantly by injuries for the first time in his career, as he missed four games, including the Wild Card Playoff, and was limited in four others. But Green has been to the Pro Bowl in all four of his seasons, and prior to his difficult ’14 campaign, his yardage total of 3833 was second-most in NFL history (behind Randy Moss) for most receiving yards in a player’s first three seasons.
Urban counts two other prize pupils in Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, both fourth-year players for 2015 and neither as touted a prospect as Green (fourth overall draft pick in ’11). Jones, a fifth-round draftee in 2012, missed all of ’14 with injuries, but he’s back at full speed for ’15, looking to build on a breakout ’13 season. Jones had 51 catches for 712 yards and 10 TDs in ’13, and against the N.Y. Jets, he became the first player in Bengals history to catch four TD passes in a game. He was the also first player on any NFL team to catch four TD passes in a game since 2007.
Green had 11 TD catches in 2013, and he and Jones became the first Bengals WR duo to each get double-figure scores in a season.
Sanu, a third-round draftee in 2012, has developed under Urban into a tough and productive player with big-play ability. In 2014, Sanu caught 56-for-790 with five TDs, all career highs.
In 2011, his first Bengals season, Urban had a big job, charged with leading an inexperienced Bengals 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 the playoffs.
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.