Paul Alexander is now wearing Cowboys gear.
The Bengals and Cowboys have swapped offensive line coaches, but Paul Alexander isn’t trading in on his prediction that embattled Cincinnati tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher are going to make it.
“Everyone is going to hammer Cedric and Fisher but a year from, now you’ll say, ‘Paul was right. These guys are good,’” Alexander said Tuesday as he drove around Dallas looking for a place to live for the first time in 24 years.
“Remember when Tennessee wanted to get rid of Taylor Lewan and (Eric) Fisher was terrible for Kansas City and (Jake) Matthews wasn’t playing well for Atlanta? These guys are good players now. It doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it does. Willie (Anderson) was pretty good young. (Andrew Whitworth) was pretty good young. Most guys were not that way.”
Alexander says his departure from the Bengals as the NFL’s longest-tenured offensive line coach for 23 straight seasons with one club was “mutual.” After the season head coach Marvin Lewis motioned Alexander into his office with, “Let’s talk for a minute,” and Alexander said, ‘Let me talk first.”
“I told him I wasn’t coming back,” said Alexander, who said he thought Lewis was thinking along the same lines. “My kids are in college, I’d been in the same place for a long time. I loved my time here, but my wife and I wanted a little adventure at the end of our lives and we wanted to go explore. And this was the best year to do it. There were a lot of jobs open. I got a little nervous, but you’ve got to have a little confidence yourself and I ended up getting the best one out there.” Alexander says he’s never had the talent that is waiting for him in Dallas. Like many league observers, he says it’s the best line in the NFL.
“Three Pro Bowlers and the young right tackle has that capability,” Alexander said. “I had one or two of those guys (at once), but not four.”
Despite all the club records his lines have set and the struggles of Ogbuehi and Fisher, Alexander says his warmest memories come from this season. In the last two games he remembers how injuries forced Clint Boling from left guard to left tackle and in that last game right tackle Eric Winston playing almost the entire game even though he could barely walk to the line of scrimmage and practice squadder Kent Perkins coming cold off the bench for a few plays to make his NFL debut at tackle.
He told Lewis and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor with a month left in the season, “These guys won’t quit on you,” and he was right.
“I’ve never had a line improve like this one,” Alexander said. “Obviously they had the longest way to go, but probably my greatest memory is my last one. It was my most rewarding year.
“Halfway through the year we were 30th in pass protection (by profootballfocus.com) and in the second half we were fifth. Halfway through the year we were, what, 3.0 rush? And the number I saw floated for the last six games was 4.6.”
The last few weeks he’s heard family members rip the Bengals and he’s jumped in. “No, no, no. We loved it there. A great place.” And he had a tough time saying good-bye to Bengals president Mike Brown. Two guys that don’t show emotion hugged. “He was great to me and my family … It’s unbelievable I could raise my (three) daughters in one place.”
Brown called Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to give Alexander a recommendation and that didn't surprise him.
"Jerry told me that except for a very few things, he and Mike pretty much agree on most issues involved in the game," Alexander said. "They're both obviously brilliant guys that have done great things for the league."