2-11-01, 4:40 p.m. Updated:
2-11-02, 6:15 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
With Frank Verducci leaving the Bengals' coaching staff Monday, the club moved offensive assistant John Garrett into the job of tight ends coach.
It's believed Verducci is joining Bruce Coslet's offensive staff in Dallas as offensive line coach, but the Cowboys made no announcement Monday.
The Bengals decided Garrett's scouting abilities and experience with the club made him the best of a handful of candidates. The Bengals have high regard for Garrett's scouting and they figure it is a bonus in their search for a tight end fairly early in the April 20-21 draft. Garrett inherits an extremely inexperienced position in which Tony McGee heads into his 10th season as the only tight end on the roster with more than two NFL starts.
"To me, that's what coaches are supposed to do," Garrett said. "Our job is to develop players. What I love about coaching is working with guys
and then watching them improve on what you're working on. That's how you win games."
Garrett, along with everybody else, butted heads with veteran receiver Carl Pickens during his first tenure here in the mid 1990s. But there are no such difficult personalities with the current crop of tight ends, where Garrett will get plenty of chances to develop younger players.
"John is one of the brightest coaches I've been around," said Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau. "He's not that far from playing himself, so that would be a natural bridge for him with young players."
The upcoming season is basically the rookie year for tight end Sean Brewer, last year's third-round pick who spent all last season on injured reserve after injuring his groin the week of the pre-season opener. Plus, a decision has to be made if Nick Williams is a full-time tight end or an H-Back. Plus, there is the draft pick to be named.
"We're excited to see what Brewer can do," Garrett said. "I can tell you despite being injured all year, he was into it, he improved his body, and he stayed in great shape. Nick brings a lot of versatility to the position that we have to get out of him no matter where he is. I look forward to working with him because he's a big guy that can move and catch. It's a draft that is heavy on tight ends, so that's going to be interesting, too."
Garrett, 36, a wide receiver out of Princeton, played for the Bengals in 1989 before getting cut on the eve of the1990 season. He hooked on with the Bills for part of the 1991 season after playing that spring in the World League. He's in the second year of his second stint with the Bengals after two seasons as an offensive assistant with the Cardinals. Before that, he had been an offensive assistant or the receivers coach for the Bengals from 1995-98.
Garrett has spent most of his time around quarterbacks and receivers and welcomes the opportunity to get involved in pre-game preparation of the running game with offensive line coach Paul Alexander and running backs coach Jim Anderson.
"You've got to be well versed in all the positions if you're an NFL coach. The only adjustment here is the emphasis," Garrett said. "The emphasis here is on the run game and pass blocking. It's truly an all-around position and that makes it fun."
LeBeau is looking to fill the opening Garrett leaves at offensive assistant, probably with a younger coach seeking to break into the league.
Last week, LeBeau hired former Steelers and Saints free safety Darren Perry to assist cornerbacks coach Kevin Coyle with the safeties. Perry replaced Ray Horton, and the Lions tapped Horton Monday to coach their secondary.
Coslet is the former Bengals head coach now the Cowboys offensive coordinator who previously talked with Verducci about the line job. They had parted ways in the search late last week, but apparently there were new developments over the weekend.
Verducci is looking to become the third straight Bengals tight ends coach to move up with another team. Gary Moeller left Cincinnati to join the Lions' defensive staff in a move that led to his brief tenure as Detroit's head coach. Bob Wylie, who replaced Moeller in 1997, went to the Bears in 1999 as offensive line coach and was replaced by Verducci.
"When I came into the league, my goal was to become a line coach," said Verducci, who came to Cincinnati after seven seasons as the Iowa line coach. "The Bengals have been great to me and put my personal interests first and for that I'm grateful."