A Bengals assistant from 1997-2002, Mark Duffner returned to Cincinnati's coaching staff in '19 as senior defensive assistant. He now enters his 27th season as an NFL coach, and 11th with the Bengals.
In 2021, Duffner helped the Cincinnati defense rank fifth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (102.5 per game) and 11th in sacks (41). Free agent acquisition DE Trey Hendrickson notched 14 sacks, fifth-most in the league and second-most in a season in team history, while LB Logan Wilson led the team with 98 tackles and four interceptions. The defense continued to make key plays during the postseason run to Super Bowl LVI, as Cincinnati led all teams in postseason in interceptions (eight), tackles (155) and passes defensed (23).
In 2020, Duffner worked with a Cincinnati defense that held opposing passers to just a 62.8 completion percentage (sixth in the NFL). He helped S Jessie Bates III develop into one of the NFL's top safeties and guided the transition of three rookie LBs into the defensive rotation. In 2019, a late-season turnaround saw Cincinnati record 11 more sacks in the second half of the season compared to the first eight games and allow 84.1 fewer yards per game.
Duffner spent 2016-18 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as linebackers coach and served the last 11 games of '18 as interim defensive coordinator after mid-season staff changes. Over those 11 contests, Tampa's defense improved its yards allowed per game from 439.8 to 357.7. Under Duffner's guidance in 2017, LB Kwon Alexander earned his first Pro Bowl nod, while LB Lavonte David had five FFs (second-most in the NFL) and a league-high five FRs.
From 2014-15, Duffner served as linebackers coach for the Miami Dolphins, working alongside several current Bengals coaches, including head coach Zac Taylor and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. Prior to Miami, Duffner spent eight seasons (2006-13) coaching linebackers with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Duffner was named in 2014 as the top Jacksonville assistant coach by the Florida Times-Union on the All-20th Anniversary Jaguars Team. He also twice was voted by fans as Buccaneers Coach of the Year (2017 and '18) as part of Tampa Bay's local PewterCast Awards.
From 2003-05, Duffner was linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers, where he helped developed first-round draft pick Nick Barnett, who led the team in tackles in each of his three seasons.
Duffner broke into the NFL coaching ranks with the Bengals from 1997-2002. He spent his first four seasons (1997-2000) as LBs coach, then was defensive coordinator for two seasons ('01-02). In 2001, the Bengals' defense allowed the franchise's fewest points (309) since 1989, and the fewest yards per game (302.0) since 1983.
Prior to the NFL, Duffner coached 22 years in the college ranks, including 11 as a head coach. He compiled a combined 80-40-1 record as a head coach at the University of Maryland (1992-96) and The College of the Holy Cross ('86-91). Duffner helped the Terrapins return to the national rankings in 1995 for the first time in nine seasons. At Holy Cross, the Crusaders won five Patriot League championships and four Lambert Cups. Duffner's team also earned the No. 1 ranking in the final 1987 NCAA Division I-AA poll. He was named Patriot League Coach of the Year four times, and he earned National Coach of the Year honors in 1987 and '91. A 2008 inductee of the Holy Cross Hall of Fame, Duffner left the program with the best winning percentage in Patriot League history (.917).
Duffner began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio State under Woody Hayes from 1975-76 while he earned a master's degree. He then served as defensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati from 1977-80.
Duffner was born on July 19, 1953, in Annandale, Va.. He played college football at William & Mary from '72-74 (inducted into school's hall of fame in '90). He and his wife, Kathy, have two daughters, Christina and Carolyn, and one son, John, as well as three granddaughters and one grandson.