During an energetic first week of the post-Marvin Lewis Era, the Bengals' whirlwind search for a head coach has already interviewed as many candidates as they did before they hired Lewis in January of 2003. And that's before they are believed to jet to a two-city road trip this weekend to make it eight interviews by the time Sunday's Wild Card Games are underway.
Sixteen years ago Lewis, Washington's defensive coordinator, led a list of five candidates that included former Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin and Steelers offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, as well as internal candidates Jim Anderson, the running backs coach, and Mark Duffner, the defensive coordinator. But this time they're not stopping at five, which is thought to be the number when they broke from meetings Thursday at Paul Brown Stadium and prepared to take the show on the road.
They don't look to be stopping at eight, either. According to the NFL rulebook, the Bengals can interview coaches on teams with a play-off bye this week. Next week they can interview coaches on teams that participated in Wild Card Weekend, so that's why the search committee, which is believed to consist of director of player personnel Duke Tobin as well as the family ownership team headed by Bengals president Mike Brown, is hitting the road.
It took them 16 days to hire Lewis and Thursday was Day Four, but it's hard to say if this search lasts more than 12 days. It's believed they began working from a list of more than 20 names and have made about a dozen initial inquiries. The process consumes the committee until the head coach is introduced because there are also phone calls to research candidates as well as potential second interviews.