Ken Zampese is in his 14th season on the Bengals staff, and after 13 seasons as quarterbacks coach, during which he guided multiple QBs to high production levels, he takes over in 2016 as offensive coordinator.
“I’m excited for Kenny’s opportunity to continue to grow our offense,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “He understands my vision about our future. It’s time for him to really put his hands on it now and advance the development. He has been (QB) Andy Dalton’s position coach, and Andy has just kept on getting better, so we’ve obviously got continuity working there.”
Dalton was not ordained as a future star when he entered the NFL in 2011, drafted by Cincinnati in the second round (35th overall). But Dalton’s success under Zampese has been fast and steady, and it reached new heights last season when Dalton posted a 106.3 passer rating, topping the franchise record mark of 101.1 set by Carson Palmer under Zampese in 2005. Dalton ranked first in the AFC and second in the NFL, and he led the team to a 10-2 record in its first 12 games, before suffering a season-ending thumb fracture in Game 13.
Dalton has become only the second starting QB in the Super Bowl era to lead his team to the playoffs in Feach of his first five seasons, and Zampese stands as the only QBs coach to fully guide such an accomplishment. Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, the other QB to turn the trick, had three different position coaches during his five-year run. Dalton has the best winning percentage of any Bengals QB with 10 or more starts (.656, 50-26-1). In 2013, Dalton set Bengals records for passing yards (4293) and TD passes (33).
Perhaps equally impressive last season from a coaching standpoint, firstyear QB AJ McCarron was immediately impressive in replacing Dalton. McCarron went unexpectedly from Zampese’s classroom to a playoff stretch run, and the coach’s No. 2 pupil defied an experience level that amounted to only a handful of mop-up snaps. McCarron posted a 2-1 record and a 101.1 passer rating in his three starts (Games 14-16). In the Wild Card playoff, McCarron led a Bengals comeback from a 15-point deficit to take a late lead, only to see Pittsburgh come back with a winning FG at the gun.
Prior to Dalton, Zampese led Carson Palmer into the ranks of the Bengals’ all-time top passers. Palmer still holds the club’s all-time best completion percentage (62.9) and the Nos. 2-4 totals for passing yards in a season. In 2003, his first season with the Bengals, Zampese had success with a veteran starting quarterback in Jon Kitna. The ’03 campaign saw Kitna post career highs at that point in completions (324), passing yards (3591), TD passes (26), completion percentage (62.3) and rating (87.4). Zampese (pronounced “zam-PEE-zee”) came to the Bengals following three seasons (2000-02) in St. Louis.
Zampese joined the Rams in 2000 as an offensive assistant. He was promoted to wide receivers coach in 2001, and the Rams led the league in passing yards for a second straight year, averaging 291.4. In 2002, he added the title of passing game coach, and the Rams finished second in the league at 259.6 yards per game. Zampese began his NFL career in 1998 as an offensive assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles under head coach Ray Rhodes. Prior to the NFL, Zampese coached for nine years in college, including two seasons at Miami (Ohio). In ’97, Miami averaged 37.4 points per game. Zampese played wide receiver and kick returner at the University of San Diego from 1985-88. He was the team’s Special Teams Player of the Year as a senior. He earned an undergraduate degree in business from San Diego, and later received a master’s degree in adult education from Southern California. Zampese was born July 19, 1967, in Santa Maria, Calif. He and his wife have two children. Ken’s father, Ernie Zampese, was a longtime NFL offensive coordinator who coached on a Super Bowl winner with the 1995 Cowboys. The elder Zampese also was a coordinator for the Chargers, Rams and Patriots.
Playing and coaching history: 1985-88—Played wide receiver, kickoff returner and punt returner, University of San Diego. 1989— Assistant coach (AC), University of San Diego. 1990-91—AC, Southern California. 1992-94—AC, Northern Arizona. 1995—Offensive coordinator, Northern Arizona. 1996-97—AC, Miami (Ohio). 1998—AC, Philadelphia Eagles. 1999—AC, Green Bay Packers. 2000-02—AC, St. Louis Rams. 2003-15—AC, Cincinnati Bengals. 2016—Offensive coordinator, Bengals.