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Another Joseph in Bengals secondary finds a good fit

Posted Jan 21, 2014

Vance Joseph will team with incumbent Bengals DBs coach Mark Carrier to direct the largest position group on the roster.


Joseph has spent the last three seasons as defensive backs coach of the Houston Texans.

Updated: 3:10 p.m.

When Vance Joseph thought about the fit after he signed on as what amounts to be the Bengals co-secondary coach on Tuesday, he had to admit he knows more about Cincinnati than most clubs.

As the Texans secondary coach he prepared for two playoff games against the Bengals offense. Joseph and director of player personnel Duke Tobin were backup quarterbacks together at Colorado in the early '90s sitting behind Kordell Stewart. And Joseph has known his best player, cornerback Leon Hall, longer than anyone in the locker room because he tried to recruit Hall to Colorado when Hall was in high school and Joseph coached at his alma mater.

"I talked to eight to 10 players about him and they all said the same thing," said new Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. "He's excellent with strategy, but he's also very good with technique and I think that's something we need to work on back there."

Plus, Joseph coached one of Hall's best friends, former Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph (no relation), to his first two Pro Bowls when he was in Houston.

"Hopefully we can get Leon to his first Pro Bowl," Joseph said Tuesday. "That was a pretty good tandem … he's a very, very bright player. He's got a high football IQ. His best days are in front of him."

The Bengals feel the same way about the 41-year-old Joseph, a guy that new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther pursued right out of the gate when assistant secondary coach Adam Zimmer went to the Vikings. A number of teams were waiting on Joseph's decision and it's believed one was even talking about him as a coordinator.

"Marvin Lewis is a great man, an excellent head coach," Joseph said as he talked about deciding on Cincinnati. "It's a winning team and a young team with great defensive personnel. It's exciting. I think from a football standpoint and a lifestyle it's a fit."

Joseph, married with two children, is known as an excellent technician and considers it his specialty.

"Secondary play is driven by technique," Joseph said. "If a defensive back has great technique, he's always going to be in a good spot to make a play and be in a good spot not to give up big plays. That's defensive back play in a nutshell. Guys who can play great technique, they can make plays on the ball and not give up big plays. If you give up big plays, that costs you ballgames. … I'm a pretty good teacher of technique and I can help the scheme as far as what coverage is working against the offensive scheme."

After playing 17 NFL games in two seasons for the Jets and Colts at cornerback, Joseph has coached NFL secondaries for eight seasons, five in San Francisco and the last three in Houston. He and incumbent Bengals secondary coach Mark Carrier make up the most seasoned NFL coaching tandem in the Bengals secondary since Kevin Coyle and Louie Cioffi coached the 2010 DBs.

"Mark's an old NFL safety, that's his specialty, and I'm old NFL cornerback, that's my specialty," Joseph said. "That should be a great combination."

Joseph played 30 games for the Buffaloes at quarterback with four touchdown passes and no interceptions.

"Being a quarterback helps you coach defense," Joseph said. "Now you understand how offenses are trying to attack you. That’s a plus in my coaching background."

Last season, despite falling from the ranks of playoff teams, the Texans ranked third in the NFL in fewest passing yards allowed and seventh overall on defense. In 2012, the Texans led the NFL in lowest opponents’ completion percentage (53.0) and were 10th in lowest opponent passer rating (80.0). In 2011, Joseph’s first season, the Texans rose from 32nd to third in fewest passing yards allowed while holding foes to a completion percentage of 51.9 and an aggregate passer rating of 69.0.

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