Last week it was two players returning to the city where they played in 2011 and this week it’s a coach as Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle heads back to Cincinnati.
Coyle spent 11 seasons on the Bengals’ coaching staff (2001-11), the last nine as their defensive backs coach. Unlike linebacker
“Obviously, I have a pretty good knowledge of these guys having been there as long as I was,” Coyle said. “Early in the week, you talk a little bit about that, but then you’re into the normal game week preparation. Each week, we talk about personnel and certain guys might be more familiar with guys on a certain team, but it’s the next game on the schedule and I’m looking forward to it.”
Needless to say, Coyle’s office has to be a popular destination this week, especially for Miami’s wide receivers. His familiarity with that defensive backfield will be seen as a goldmine for the likes of
“Absolutely. I’m going to sit down and talk with him a little bit,” said Hartline, who leads the National Football League in receiving yards with 455 after his 253-yard outing last week. “He’s going to know some people, know their tendencies. I’m going to pick his brain a little bit. I think it’ll definitely be a bonus to us.”
The fact that Coyle went against Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and speedy wide receiver A.J. Green on a regular basis last season in practice also is a benefit because he has a keen understanding of their tendencies. So his defensive backs, specifically cornerbacks
Green has evolved since his stellar rookie campaign, as has Dalton, with Green second in the NFL in receiving yards behind Hartline at 428 and tied for fifth in receptions with 27. That’s two more than Hartline and he also has two more touchdown catches than Hartline (3-1), but he knows Coyle will have some secrets in store for him and the offense.
“I’m pretty sure he knows us well and we know him pretty well,” Green said. “So I’m pretty sure he’s going to have a good plan for us.”
Still, the way that passing offenses have advanced in recent years and the willingness of teams to put the ball in the air much more than in previous years has put more pressure on defensive coordinators. Coyle is well aware of that.
So whatever he does know about Green and Dalton and their specific skill set could be counteracted by the different route packages and schemes the Bengals throw at the Dolphins.
“It’s a lot more difficult, even in the 12 years I’ve been in the league. The schemes have evolved,” Coyle said. “For example, the multiplicity of wide receivers in normal down and distances as opposed to just third down when you bring in the three wides and you’d be a two-back team. Even when I first came in the league, lot of teams were featuring a lot of two-back, what we would call 21 personnel, and they’d run it or throw a play action on third down or get in the shotgun maybe. But now you’ve got shotgun on first down. You’ve got empty formations. They’re spread out all over the field. It’s not quite crazy as it is in the college game, but it’s presented more problems, more matchup problems.”
And that’s the area where Coyle wants to see more improvement because while he is leading the league’s best run defense, the Dolphins rank 30th against the pass. Cincinnati likes to pass, but Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis knows Coyle too well and expects a tough challenge on Sunday.
“Kevin’s an incredible coach,” Lewis said. “I’ve known Kevin since way back in my days with the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he was coaching in college. Then he was at Maryland when I was with the Ravens. I came over here and retained Kevin right away. He’s a great football coach, a great family man and I’m very glad for him success.”
Coyle will no doubt he happier if he is shaking hands with Lewis at midfield following a Dolphins victory.