Updated: 12/31/2017 at 3:40 p.m. ET.
After 15 seasons as the Cincinnati Bengals head coach, Marvin Lewis is planning to leave the team to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Lewis coached in 237 games, which is the second most among active coaches in the NFL. He has a winning percentage of .525 in the regular season, but is 0-7 in the playoffs.
Lewis had drawn the ire of the Bengals fanbase for his failure to win in the postseason and the team's recent struggles. For many Bengals fans, the report of Lewis electing to step away was welcome news. There will be plenty Bengals coaching rumors moving forward, so here are the top 10 candidates to replace Lewis.
10.) Jay Gruden, Redskins head coach
As Ian Rapoport reports, the Bengals have interest in hiring Jay Gruden if he's available. However, Gruden did get a contract extension last year from the Redskins and might not be on the open market. But if Dan Snyder decides to restart the franchise, the Bengals will chase Gruden. He's the team's former OC and would give the Bengals the type of familiarity they like. Gruden is likely to stay in Cincinnati, so if the Bengals wanted him they'd need to trade for him.
9.) Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator
McDaniels has rebuilt his reputation while leading the Patriots’ offense for the past five seasons after a less-than-successful head coaching debut in Denver. Its been rumored for several years that McDaniels has a strong desire to be an NFL head coach again should the right role open up. Perhaps he can bring some of the "Brady Effect" for a Bengals team who need some offensive help. McDaniels shouldn't have the final say in personnel decisions, especially in the draft. That's what ruined his tenure with Denver. The good news for the Bengals is that Duke Tobin is well-regarded within the NFL. Still, it would be a surprise if the Bengals managed to land McDaniels because why would he want the job?
8.) Matt Patricia, Patriots defensive coordinator
Entering the 2017 season, Patricia was one of the more coveted coaches. The Patriots defense struggled early on but have only allowed more than 17 points one time in their last nine games. He gets to learn from one of the greatest NFL minds under Bill Belichick and could get this great defense back on track. The former rocket scientist has done a little bit of everything since joining the Patriots in 2004. He's served as an offensive assistant, offensive line coach, a linebackers coach, a safeties coach and took over as the defensive coordinator in 2012. The buzz around Patricia picked up last year and it should only grow. He's just 43 years old and he'll get a head coaching gig in the near future.
7.) Dave Toub, Chiefs special teams coordinator
Toub is dubbed one of the greatest minds for coaching special teams in the history of the NFL. He has turned the Chiefs special teams into one of the most feared units, featuring Tyreek Hill. He is respected throughout the NFL and has a great relationship with the players and front office. At 55 years old, Toub is older than many first-time head coaches but will draw interest after having interviews last season. He might be better fit for a team like the Colts.
6.) Steve Wilks, Panthers defensive coordinator
Wilks is 48 years old and in his first year as a defensive coordinator. The Panthers defense didn't miss a beat with Sean McDermott in Buffalo this year, a credit to Wilks. He's well-regarded in the coaching world, with a background in the secondary. Due to the Rooney Rule, Wilks is a good candidate to get an interview.
5.) Frank Reich, Eagles offensive coordinator
Reich is one of the hottest names in the NFL right now given the success of the Eagles this season. Carson Wentz, in his second year, emerged as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league before going down. Reich would likely help Andy Dalton or potentially another young quarterback. The Eagles' creative offense is a major reason why they have had success this season and the Bengals will be looking for a fresh start.
4.) Vance Joseph, Broncos head coach
Joseph is the Broncos head coach, but for how much longer? There's a real chance he is fired by Denver, which could clear the way for him to return to Cincinnati. The Bengals aren't likely to land a top-tier head coach, but they wouldn't mind hiring someone they are familiar with. Joseph coached the Bengals DBs for a few years and he would fulfill the Rooney Rule for Cincinnati.
3.) Paul Guenther, Bengals Defensive Coordinator
Guenther has been coaching in the NFL for 15 seasons, 13 of which have been with the Bengals. He has been the defensive coordinator for the past four seasons and in the last two seasons, the Bengals have ranked in the top 10 for fewest points allowed. Even though this season hasn't been great for the Bengals, the defense has still played well, allowing only 20.8 points per game (13th best in the NFL). Going with a coach who has been a part of the franchise and sustained success during his time there would make sense.
2.) Darrin Simmons, Bengals Special Teams Coach
The special teams unit for the Bengals has battled several injuries this season and yet they have done a decent job. Simmons began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Kansas in 1996. After Kansas, he went on to coach with the University of Minnesota in 1997. His NFL coaching career began in 1998 with the Ravens, where he was on the same staff as Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. He was the assistant strength and conditioning and assistant special teams coach for the Ravens in 1998 and held that same position for the Panthers from 1999–2002. Simmons is an option if the Bengals want to keep things in-house, which wouldn't be a huge surprise. He was linked to the job already by Ian Rapoport. He's young and well-regarded by the front office. Don't be surprised if the Bengals go in-house for this hire.
1.) Hue Jackson, Browns Head Coach
Jackson has 30 plus years of coaching experience and the last 16 have been in the NFL. He was named head coach of the Browns in 2016 where he has sustained a 1-28 record. Before coaching at the Browns, Jackson spent the previous four seasons (2012-15) with the Bengals. During that time, he helped the Bengals win two division titles. Jackson had a ton of success with the Bengals and owner Mike Brown is high on him and didn't want to lose him to the Browns a few years ago. While Cleveland has said it wants to keep Jackson, he might want to return to the Bengals. It might not be likely, but Jackson is at the top of the Bengals' wish-list. A trade could happen.