CINCINNATI — Bengals coach Marvin Lewis called it a “very difficult” decision to fire offensive coordinator Ken Zampese last Friday after the team’s 0-2 start.
Speaking publicly about the decision for the first time Wednesday, Lewis also cautioned his players that the change of direction wasn’t a magic fix after they failed to score a touchdown in either game.
“It’s a step,” Lewis said. “I told the players that on Monday morning. This is not magic. You have to do the work. Offense, defense and special teams all alike. We got Kenny out of here. Not Kenny. We did. And they’ve got to understand that. They’re part of that. And the next time, look around and there will be different guys sitting there. And they realize that, too. I had one of the defensive players come to me that way. And they understand that. Pretty soon, everyone looks around and they start looking the other way.”
Lewis seemed a little emotional discussing the decision to fire Zampese, who has been on his staff since he arrived in Cincinnati in 2003. Zampese was the Bengals quarterbacks coach from 2003 to ’15, before he was promoted to offensive coordinator.
Lewis initially changed the subject after only a few questions on Zampese, but elaborated more on the topic toward the end of his news conference.
“(Zampese) busted his tail here,” Lewis said. “He’s been with me since I started (as head coach in Cincinnati). Even when I had been involved in jobs prior to here, I had been in contact with Ken. He and his family are tremendous. They’ve been great friends. He’s a fine football coach, and he’ll get another opportunity to knock it out of the park. This just didn’t work.” He added: “But, we have a lot of people in this building. We have to look out for everyone. To Ken’s credit, he understood completely.”
Former quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor now will be calling plays for Cincinnati in Zampese’s place.