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Alexander's departure signals change in run game


Paul Alexander's offensive lines blocked for many of the team's greatest performances.

Paul Alexander, who had a left guard last Sunday born the year he took over the Bengals offensive line in 1995, won't return to the club as Bill Lazor settled into the offensive coordinator's job in his own right Wednesday.

Alexander was in charge of the run game so it's a major move that indicates a significant change in how the Bengals approach line play and the ground attack.  They had their worst rushing season ever in the history of the club when it came to net yards, but they are attempting to build on Lazor's approach that helped them average 4.6 yards per carry and 114 yards per game in the last six games.

The Bengals have had only two line coaches since 1980. After one year as the Bengals tight ends coach in 1994, Alexander succeeded one of his O-line mentors in Jim McNally, the guru who coached Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz and the Super Bowl line of the late '80s that finished in the top five in NFL rushing five straight seasons that included No. 1 finishes in 1988-89.

McNally, 74, is a consultant for the Bengals and has been mentioned as a possible candidate. Lazor said he's looking for a guy that has coached in the league.

Only running backs coach Jim Anderson, with 29 seasons (1984-2012), and former strength coach Kim Wood, with 28 (1975-2002), served longer in Cincinnati than Alexander's 24. Only special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons, tight ends coach Jon Hayes, secondary coach Kevin Coyle, and strength coach Chip Morton are left from Lewis'' original 20003 staff.

"I'd like to thank the Bengals for the career of a lifetime as I was honored to coach and work with the tremendous men in this organization," Alexander said in a statement. "Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis are great men who I love and respect. But, as Coach Jim McNally passed the baton to me 23 years ago, it's time for me to do the same. It's just time. On behalf of my family, we are both grateful and excited to discover our next NFL experience."

Alexander's offensive lines blocked for three of the top five Bengals rushers of all-time, including leader Corey Dillon and his top three games of 278, 246, and 216 that are the three biggest rushing games in club history. He coached right tackle Willie Anderson and left tackle Andrew Whiworth to a combined seven Pro Bows and tackle Levi Jones to a couple of alternate berths.

"He coached a lot of great players here," said eight-year left guard Clint Boling, the veteran of this year's group. "He helped me out a lot. I remember the conversation I had with him after my rookie year and he told me what I needed to do to play in this league. He told me  I had to get more flexible, bend my knees. I went home and worked on it and came back and started my second year."  

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