Mark Carrier, a three-time Pro Bowl selection as an NFL safety, is in his fourth season coaching Bengals defensive backs. Carrier and Vance Joseph share the coaching load for what is the team’s largest position group.
The 2014 Bengals ranked tied for third in the NFL in interceptions (20), and the defensive backs had 15 of those picks. A well-balanced effort saw S Reggie Nelson lead the way with four, while S George Iloka, CB Dre Kirkpatrick and CB Adam Jones each had three. It was the first time since 2005 for the Bengals to have four DBs with three or more.
Also last season, the Bengals ranked third in lowest aggregate passer rating by opponents (75.8), and Cincinnati ranked second in differential between interceptions and TD passes allowed. The Bengals finished with a plus-two differential, as their foes suffered the 20 INTs while completing only 18 TD passes. The only team better in this category was Buffalo at plus-three (19-16), and the Bengals and Bills were the only teams that finished in the plus column.
The DBs played a central role in one other top 10 NFL ranking, a ninth-place finish in lowest opponent completion percentage (60.0).
In 2013, the DBs helped lead the Bengals to NFL rankings of third in net defense (305.5), fifth in net pass defense (209.0), tied for fifth in scoring defense (19.1) tied for ninth in lowest opponent completion percentage (59.0).
In 2012, Carrier’s unit helped lead the Bengals to a No. 7 NFL rank in fewest passing yards allowed (212.5 per game) and to a No. 6 rank in total defense (319.7). The Bengals fielded a particularly effective air defense in the end zone, as their 16 TD passes allowed ranked tied for fourth in the NFL and was Cincinnati’s fewest since 1984 (15).
Carrier is in his 10th year as an NFL position coach. He spent two seasons (2010-11) as defensive line coach for the N.Y. Jets and was defensive backs coach for the Baltimore Ravens from 2006-09.
In 2011, Carrier’s defensive line helped the Jets finish fifth in the NFL in fewest yards allowed per game (312.1), fifth in fewest yards allowed per play (5.0) and seventh in fewest yards allowed per rushing play (3.9).
During Carrier’s term as defensive backs coach in Baltimore, the Ravens had the NFL’s second-most INTs (93), with S Ed Reed performing as one of the league’s premier players. Reed earned Pro Bowl selections in each of his four years playing under Carrier.
As a player, Carrier was a standout safety over 11 seasons for Chicago, Detroit and Washington, earning three Pro Bowl selections. He was an NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year selection in 1990, when Chicago made him the sixth overall pick in the draft. He also went to the Pro Bowl with the Bears after the 1991 and ’93 seasons, and he opened his career by playing in 108 consecutive games, not missing a contest due to injury until his seventh campaign.
As a Detroit player, Carrier twice received the team’s Joe Schmidt Leadership Award, named for the Lions’ Hall of Fame linebacker.
He finished his NFL career with 168 games played, 164 starts, 32 INTs, 111 passes defensed, 16 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and 556 tackles.
He played in college at Southern California and won the 1989 Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the player voted the nation’s top defensive back.
Carrier’s hometown is Lake Charles, La. He and his wife, Andrea, have a son (Mac) and a daughter (Lexi). Mark established the MacKids Foundation in honor of his son, to raise money for causes including disaster relief.
In 2001 and ’02, before beginning his career in coaching, he worked as a full-time sports commentator with various radio and TV outlets, including a role as co-host of the pregame and postgame shows on the USC Football Radio Network. He prepped for his media work by serving in a part-time role during his playing career as an on-air personality with two Chicago television stations.
Playing and coaching history: 1987-89—Played safety, Southern California. 1990-96—Played safety, Chicago Bears. 1997-99—Played safety, Detroit Lions. 2000—Played safety, Washington Redskins. 2003—Assistant coach (AC), Brophy College Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.). 2004-05—AC, Arizona State. 2006-09—AC, Baltimore Ravens. 2010-11—AC, N.Y. Jets. 2012-present—AC, Cincinnati Bengals.
Secondary coach Mark Carrier walks us through Iloka's TD saving pass breakup. The play was made in the second quarter with the game tied at 3-3, and prevented the Falcons from taking a lead.
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