Defensive Coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Guenther is in his tenth season on the Bengals coaching staff, and in 2014 he will serve as Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator
In 2013, Guenther helped the Bengals win the AFC North championship and advance to the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs. The Bengals defense also finished 3rd in the NFL in total defense, 5th in rushing, passing, and scoring defense.
In his debut as LBs coach last season, Guenther directed a unit that helped produce a No. 6 NFL ranking in fewest yards allowed per game (319.7). The Bengals were eighth in the NFL in scoring defense (20.0 points allowed per game).
Guenther faced an early challenge when veteran Thomas Howard, the starting WLB, was lost for the season to a knee injury in practice the week following the season opener. But the cloud had a silver lining, as the opportunity was presented for Guenther to help undrafted rookie Vontaze Burfict become arguably the most pleasant surprise of the season.
Burfict came to the Bengals under a cloud of his own. Though touted during much of his college career at Arizona State as a potential high NFL draft choice, he was bypassed in the ’12 draft, brought down by an inconsistent senior season and a reputation for an immature, penalty-plagued playing style.
But under Guenther, Burfict proved a smart and consistent player all season. He wound up leading the team in tackles (174), and he had only one personal foul penalty. He set a Bengals record for most starts (14) by a college free agent in his rookie season.
Also last season, a less-heralded undrafted free agent, Emmanuel Lamur, showed great progress under Guenther. He rose from the practice squad to play in the last nine games, and started in the Wild Card playoff at Houston.
Guenther held dual roles on the staff from 2006-11, assisting on special teams in all those seasons while also working with a position group. He worked five years with linebackers and one year with defensive backs. He has worked extensively with defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer in multiple aspects of the defense’s strategy on passing downs. Last season the Bengals ranked seventh in the NFL in fewest passing yards allowed (212.5 per game).
“I have a high confidence level working with Paul,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, “We’re excited about what he has brought to this role.”
Working with the LBs in 2010, Guenther contributed to a “trifecta” year, as starters Dhani Jones, Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga finished 1-2-3 on the squad in tackles.
Guenther (pronounced “GUN-thur”) entered the NFL as an offensive assistant with the Washington Redskins for 2002 and ’03. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was one of his associates in 2002, serving as Redskins assistant head coach/defensive coordinator. Guenther’s primary position assignment with the Redskins was running backs.
From 1997-2000, Guenther was head coach at Ursinus College, an NCAA Division III school in Collegeville, Pa. He was the youngest head coach in college football in ’97, at age 25, and he led the team to the playoffs in ’99 and 2000.
His 1999 Ursinus team finished 10-2, advancing to the second round of the playoffs. The 10 wins were most in school history, and the team broke most of the program’s offensive and defensive records.
Guenther was born Nov. 22, 1971. His hometown is Richboro, Pa. He played LB in college at Ursinus, setting a school career tackles record (355) while three times earning all-conference honors.
He received his undergraduate degree in communications from Ursinus in 1994, and a master’s degree in sports administration from Western Maryland in ’97.
PLAYING AND COACHING HISTORY - 1990-93: Played LB at Ursinus College. 1994-95: Assistant coach (AC), Western Maryland. 1996: AC, Ursinus. 1997: Defensive coordinator, Jacksonville Univ. 1997-2001: Head coach, Ursinus. 2002-03: AC, Washington Redskins. 2005-present: AC, Bengals.