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Taylor Fills Coaching Slots With Experience

Al Golden as head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.
Al Golden as head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.

MOBILE, Ala. - Shortly after settling into his Senior Bowl downtown headquarters where he's preparing to coach Saturday's all-star game (2:30 p.m.-NFL Network), Bengals head coach Zac Taylor continued to add experience to his staff when he made a couple of hires official on Monday.

A few days after adding two-time college head coach Al Golden to coach linebackers, Taylor tapped former Jets safeties coach Steve Jackson to work with the cornerbacks as he begins his 26th season in the NFL as a player and coach.

Taylor also made official what has been in motion since the week after the season ended when he added the title of assistant head coach to special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons' desk. They're still looking for an assistant to Simmons after Brayden Coombs became the Lions special teams coordinator last week.

In the 50-year-old Golden the Bengals get a seasoned, versatile voice on both sides of the ball in the worlds of college and pro ball to coach arguably their most deficient position. Old enough to be cut by Patriots head coach Bill Parcells but young enough to coach both ends of the NFL zone read and other modern trappings of the pro game.

After turning around a downtrodden Temple program as the second youngest head coach in the country from 2006-10, Golden went 32-25 at the University of Miami from 2011-15. Then 23 years after Parcells gave him the word, Golden got back into the NFL in 2016 when Lions head coach Jim Caldwell hired him to coach tight ends for two seasons. When Matt Patricia got the Detroit job last year, he moved Golden to linebackers.

"He's done it all," said Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. "Anytime you get a guy with head coaching experience who has been on both offense and defense, it's a great opportunity. We're thrilled. He'll help all of us."

Golden has many ties on the Bengals staff, stretching all the way back to when he was a schoolboy tight end playing in New Jersey's Shore Conference and Holy Cross head coach Mark Duffner (now the Bengals senior defensive assistant) lost a recruiting battle for him with Penn State.

Steve Jackson coaching his old team in Tennessee.
Steve Jackson coaching his old team in Tennessee.

Golden worked with Bengals offensive line coach Jim Turner at Boston College, hired wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell as his offensive line coach at Temple, worked with offensive coordinator Brian Callahan in Detroit and crossed paths with Anarumo during their stints in Miami.

"I feel very comfortable around these guys even after just a couple of days," Golden said. "I feel very comfortable with Zac. He's very sharp, very positive, empowering. A great listener. I'm impressed with the operation and how he handles things."

Playing behind Pro Bowl tight ends Marv Cook and Ben Coates in New England, Golden never played in a game in that 1992 rookie season in Foxboro and when Parcells took over in '93, he was gone. But not before he tried to get Golden a roster spot with head coach Bill Belichick's Browns. That didn't work and he ended up briefly with the Chargers, where he also never saw game action. But he had been given Parcells' seal of approval.

"He released me, but the irony is he introduced me to everybody in his (coaching) tree," Golden said.

One of those Parcells guys was Al Groh, his defensive coordinator and a University of Virginia product and that's where Golden began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1994. Seven years later when he became the head man at Virginia, Groh made Golden his defensive coordinator.

That's the 3-4 school and Golden was true to his roots as a head coach. But while the Bengals base defense was a 4-3 last year in Anarumo's first season, they played enough 3-4 looks that the scheme can be considered a hybrid.

"We were hybrid the last couple of years in Detroit," Golden said. "To be honest, a lot of NFL teams are running hybrid because of the multiplicity of looks you see week to week. There are a lot of spread attacks, but any given week you see a pro-style offense, a little more standard two tight-end look or fullback action. It's a very diverse league right now and defenses have to be equally diverse."

 Jackson, also 50, joined the Bengals after spending the last two seasons as assistant defensive backs coach with the Jets coaching the safeties. Jackson, a third-round pick out of Purdue, played nine seasons and 118 games with 24 starts at safety for the 1991-99 Oilers/Titans under defensive coordinator and later head coach Jeff Fisher. His last game was the Super Bowl Tennessee lost to the Rams before embarking on a coaching career that has taken him to the Jets, Titans (2016-17), Detroit ('13), Washington ('04-11) and Buffalo ('01-03).