The Cincinnati Bengals are one of those teams that seem to be on the cusp of greatness. Many teams have come to this point and then fell apart.
Bengals fans are hoping the team stays on the course that has brought them to this precipice and pushes it over the top.
We know they have a great core group of players and that youth is on their side. We know they have done a good job managing salary cap numbers over the past few years.
Many of their rising stars are still under contract. When everything is moving the right direction, its hard to embrace change. For that reason, there was a collective sigh of relief from Cincinnati Bengals fans when the last head coaching vacancy was filled recently, without offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, or defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer getting a nod.
It seems odd that they were both passed over this year. Gruden, brother of former Tampa Bay head coach, Jon Gruden, was a head coach, himself, in the Arena League and in the United Football League.
He has been the only offensive coordinator Bengals' quarterback Andy Dalton has known. Dalton came into the league as a second round draft pick and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, as well as leading the Bengals to back-to-back playoff appearances all under the wing of Gruden. Gruden had a lot a interviews, but didn't land a job.
Zimmer actually had more interviews last off season than he did this time around. He has been a defensive coordinator in the NFL for 13 seasons. Seven of those seasons his defenses finished among the top 10 in the league in total yards allowed, including three out of his last four in Cincinnati, fourth in '09, seventh in '11, and sixth this past season.
Zimmer, who earned a Super Bowl ring as a secondary coach with the Dallas Cowboys in '95, before becoming a defensive coordinator, has completely changed the culture of the Cincinnati defense, bringing them to elite status.
Both coaches have displayed abilities that qualify them to be head coaches and surely one day teams will give each of them the opportunity to show the football world just how good they can be. Until then, those teams' loss is the Bengals' gain.