Bengals hire ex-Lions coach to lead LBs

January, 18, 2014
Jan 18
2:00
PM ET
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.

Coley Harvey

ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter

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