AFC North: Jim Schwartz

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals filled one of their two position coach vacancies Saturday by naming former Lions assistant Matt Burke as their new linebackers coach, taking the post recently promoted defensive coordinator Paul Guenther once held.

Guenther earlier this week was named defensive coordinator after previous defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was named the new head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.

Burke comes to Cincinnati after spending the past five seasons coaching the Lions' linebackers. Next season will mark his 11th in the NFL.

"We're fortunate to get a coach of Matt's quality and experience to move into this spot," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said in a news release. "Matt has come up under the system of Jim Schwartz, starting with Jim at the Tennessee Titans and then moving on when Jim got the head-coaching job at Detroit. He was one of Jim's hand-picked guys, and I think most people know how much I respect Jim as a friend and colleague."

Lewis and Schwartz coached together in Baltimore in the late 1990s. They also have been longtime friends, prompting beliefs that Lewis was exploring the possibility of hiring Schwartz for both the previously vacant Bengals defensive coordinator and linebackers positions. Schwartz was fired by the Lions at the end of the recently completed regular season.

Burke, 37, played a key role in helping develop Lions linebackers Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy. Both led the team in total tackles in 2012. In 2013, the Lions' defense ranked sixth against the run. The Bengals had the league's third-best defense that same regular season.

"It's a great opportunity to come and work with one of the NFL's best defenses," Burke said, "and I look forward to getting to know our players and establish communication with them. It's great to be able to work with Marvin. Jim feels the same way about Marvin as Marvin does about him, so everyone felt it was a good fit all around."

Burke played safety for Dartmouth, playing a key role in an undefeated, Ivy League championship team in 1996.

In addition to Burke, the Bengals are expecting to make one more assistant coaching hire this weekend. When Zimmer left earlier in the week for Minnesota, he took his son, assistant defensive backs coach Adam Zimmer, along with him. The Bengals should be naming his successor soon.

Plays that shaped the season: No. 6

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
Here is the next installment of plays that shaped the Steelers' season. The series will resume Monday with the final five plays revealed over the course of next week.

No. 6

The play: The Steelers snuffed out a fake field goal attempt by the Detroit Lions early in the fourth quarter of a Nov. 17 game at Heinz Field.

The situation: The Lions were leading 27-23 and had a chance to go up by a touchdown when coach Jim Schwartz opted for a fake on fourth-and-5 from the Steelers' 10-yard line. The Lions tipped off the fake by pulling left guard Larry Warford, and nose tackle Steve McLendon and defensive end Cameron Heyward followed Warford to the opening off right tackle. They swallowed up holder Sam Martin after a 3-yard gain, causing a fumble that free safety Ryan Clark recovered.

Why it mattered: The game pivoted on that ill-advised call by Schwartz as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led a 16-play, 97-yard touchdown drive that gave the Steelers the lead for good. The Steelers, still in need of a signature win, had nearly played their way out of the game with a horrendous second quarter. Schwartz gave them something of a reprieve -- that call is one reason why he is no longer coaching the Lions -- and the Steelers took full advantage of it. They scored 14 unanswered points to beat Detroit, 37-27, and the Steelers took momentum from that victory into Cleveland the following Sunday.
Before the post-game altercation between the Lions' Jim Schwartz and the 49ers' Jim Harbaugh on Sunday, both were members of the Ravens' organization in 1998. Harbaugh was the starting quarterback, and Schwartz was a defensive assistant.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who was the defensive coordinator for that Ravens team, has seen Harbaugh and Schwartz go head-to-head before -- on the basketball court.

"Jimmy [Schwartz] and Jim [Harbaugh], I’m sure both wish things would have been different and it that it didn’t have to become such a big thing," Lewis said at Monday's news conference. "But really, there’s not much to it. I'm sure both guys wish they'd have handled it a little bit better. I've been on the basketball court with both of them. They're very competitive. Schwartzie and I would be playing against Harbaugh all the time, when we'd play lunchtime basketball and Jimmy was playing for us. Two competitive guys.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh has spoken to his brother about the handshake. "Whoever was right or wrong," John Harbaugh said at Monday's news conference, "I know whose side I'm on."

John Harbaugh added, "He’s 5-1. If the biggest lesson he has now is how to shake hands postgame after a victory, he’s doing OK.”

Marvin Lewis was asked if he was surprised by the way Schwartz acted. "I think both guys wished things would have been different," Lewis said. "I don't need to editorialize on what already occurred.”