Let's see, the last time the Bengals lost themselves in a coaching search, a W was president, Eminem's "Lose Yourself," was No. 1 on the charts and Barack Obama was No. 1 on Illinois Senate's Health and Human Services Committee as the new chairman.
January of 2003. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were trying to prove their only Super Bowl title wasn't a fluke. There was grass in Paul Brown Stadium and not in the law books from California to Massachusetts. A.J. Green was juggling freshman football and basketball at Summerville High while Rams assistant Zac Taylor had just red-shirted at Wake Forest at quarterback.
From the day the Bengals moved on from Dick LeBeau 12 hours after they got back from Buffalo, they took 16 days to interview five candidates before introducing Marvin Lewis at an evening news conference at the Senior Bowl.
So settle in. And there may be even double the candidates this time and a longer wait because they're sending messages they want to get it right and not first.
According to published reports the Bengals are talking to a bevy of in-house candidates from a veteran staff they put together last offseason and added former Browns head coach Hue Jackson during this season. Reports also have them interested in assistants with play-off teams. And a college name or two figure in the mix.
Keep these timelines in mind. The Bengals contingent figures to do some traveling because coaches on teams with a play-off bye must be interviewed this week. Coaches on teams that play this weekend must be interviewed next week.
No surprise really that many of the names that they are reportedly considering are young offensive minds. That's in the DNA of the franchise when you consider the founder, Paul Brown, made it big as a young offensive mind and one of his first backup quarterbacks, Sam Wyche, coached them to a Super Bowl. By the time LeBeau and Lewis, the team' first two defensive head coaches, got the call the club was in its 33rd season.
Another big difference from 16 years ago is that the players back in '02 were weary from a decade of losing and talking about finding a guy who was a disciplinarian and organizer. Since Lewis established those traits as a backbone for the re-building project and many of the current players are play-off veterans, they don't seem to be looking for anything in particular because of lot of what Lewis brought is staying.
What was needed in '03 are now staples in '19.That spawns another big difference in the two searches. Safety Shawn Williams says the players need to stay disciplined and execute what the coaches say.
"It's hard to say exactly," said quarterback Andy Dalton of what is needed. "There has to be accountability and we had that with Marvin. You have to understand the game. It's hard to say. It's a tough year to say what we feel like we've needed."
A wise guy could say all the new guy needs is health since Green and Dalton were among 18 guys that ended up on injured reserve. But as Shawn Williams says, there'll be an adjustment. He saw it when defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer left to head coach the Vikings in 2014.
"It's going to be different when there's a change like this," Williams said. "When Zim left after my rookie year I had just started to figure it you. He was really a great coordinator and coach and that was hard for me losing Zim.
"I think the Xs and Os will change. We'll have to figure it out because we'll get a new defensive coordinator," Williams said. "This coach isn't going to magically come in and we'll go 16-0. It's on us as players, too … As players we have to be smart and disciplined. At the end of the day, they can tell us, but it's our actions. They don't have control over that."
Another difference from '03 is that young guns are hot now. That's thanks to the success of Sean McVay, who was 31 in his first season last year with the Rams, and 40-year-old Matt Nagy leading the Bears to the NFC Central title this year in his first season. In '03, the Bengals' leading candidates were the 44-year-old Lewis and the 56-year-old Tom Coughlin.