The Cincinnati Bengals and their coach, Marvin Lewis, don’t like major changes.
Neither does Teryl Austin, which makes him a good fit as the team’s new defensive coordinator.
“We wanted to stay within our structure,” Lewis said Thursday during Austin’s introductory news conference. “With the personnel we have returning, we didn’t have to make drastic changes. We didn’t want the players to have to re-learn the wheel.”
Austin, 52, spent the past four seasons as Detroit’s defensive coordinator, but his future was in doubt after the Lions fired coach Jim Caldwell last week. He inherits a defense that was 18th in the NFL in total defense and produced 14 takeaways this past season. The Lions finished ninth in total defense with 32 takeaways.
“It’s more about the players than us,” said Austin, who replaces Paul Guenther. “We wanted to keep things similar, terminology-wise. We’ll make some changes, but nothing drastic.”
Lewis said, “He has ties to a lot of people on our staff here.”
Guenther left Cincinnati after spending 13 seasons with the Bengals, the last four as defensive coordinator, for the same job with the Oakland Raiders.
Austin, who interviewed for Detroit’s coaching vacancy last week, preferred joining a team that he felt didn’t need a lot of work.
“One thing I wanted was to go somewhere and not have to overhaul things,” he said. “The Bengals have good personnel. We’ll try to do what they were doing, but just do it better. There’s good talent here. Every year, you try to add to that talent. My job is to make sure they perform on the field.
“We’re going to try to play on (the opponent’s) side of the line of scrimmage and play without fear — physical and strong. We’re not going to sit back and let the other teams dictate what we do.”
That includes forcing turnovers, he said.
“It’s like anything you coach,” Austin said. “You get what you emphasize.”
In 2014, the Lions became the ninth team in NFL history to finish the season allowing fewer than 70 yards rushing per game. Detroit lost Ndamukong Suh off that team and slipped defensively after that.
Austin previously was a secondary coach for the Baltimore Ravens and also has coached defensive backs for the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.
Lewis, who was brought back by the Bengals after a 7-9 season, has sent five assistants on to NFL head coaching jobs, but Austin said that wasn’t part of his decision-making process.
“I think the bigger selling point is the chance to work with some quality people and a quality team,” he said. “The other stuff can take care of itself.”
Lewis added, “Hopefully, he’ll have great success immediately and he has that opportunity.”