The Cincinnati Bengals fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after failing to score a touchdown in its first two games. They promoted quarterback coach Bill Lazor to the role and scored a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers in his first drive.
The 45-year-old Lazor is a Scranton, Pennsylvania native who went to Cornell.
Here’s what you need to know about Lazor.
1. This Is Lazor’s Second Stint as an Offensive Coordinator
Lazor has been an NFL coach since 2003, joining the Atlanta Falcons as an offensive quality control assistant. Aside from a three-year stint at the University of Virginia from 2010 to 2012, Lazor has been in the NFL ever since.
Lazor rose the ranks to become the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins. He was hired in January 2014, but was fired in November 2015 with five games left in the season.
As ESPN noted, Lazor was fired when the Dolphins were 4-7 and averaging only 15.6 points per game.
2. Lazor Worked Under Chip Kelly With the Eagles & Kelly Thought He’d Succeed With the Dolphins
The Dolphins hired Lazor because they wanted to replicate the high-speed offense that succeeded for Chip Kelly.
“It’s reminiscent of Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia, with the tempo and style,” a Dolphins player told the Miami Herald. “There are some West Coast offense concepts. Some shotgun, some under center. They’ve discussed having both no-huddle and huddle. It’s fast tempo.”
Kelly later told the media he thought Lazor would succeed with Miami, praising Lazor’s work with quarterback Nick Foles.
“I think everybody’s product of what you see on the field and, obviously, Nick deserves credit because Nick’s the one who’s playing,” Kelly said in March 2004. “But Billy was the guy that got him prepared to play, so I think Billy did a great job with him. I think he’s got great experience in terms of being a coordinator at the college level but has also coached with the Seahawks and the Falcons and the Redskins. … I thought it was a great opportunity for him and I think he’s going to do a really good job down there.”
Of course, Lazor isn’t with Miami any longer and Kelly isn’t coaching in the NFL.
3. Lazor Also Worked Under Joe Gibbs & Mike Holmgren
Lazor has worked under two other legendary coaches. From 2004 to 2007, he was on Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs’ staff. From 2008 to 2009, he was with the Seattle Seahawks, spending a season working with Mike Holmgren.
“Joe and I used to talk about [Lazor] and he would always say how good he was doing,” Dan Reeves, who Lazor worked for in Atlanta, told Bengals.com. “He’s the kind of guy he can watch film, find something and pick it out and use it. I think one of the reasons he’s so smart is that he played quarterback at Cornell. I think that really helps him.”
That work with quarterbacks was why the Bengals hired him in the first place. They hoped he could “fix” quarterback Andy Dalton. Now, he has to “fix” the entire offense.
4. Lazor Was a Quarterback at Cornell
Before Lazor entered the NFL as a coach, he was successful both as a player and as a coach at the college level. From 1990 to 1993, Lazor played at Cornell and was the team’s Most Valuable Player after his senior year. He was also picked for the All-Ivy League team. He set 26 Cornell records in passing and total offense.
After graduating, he became an assistant coach at Cornell, where he stayed until 2000. In 2001, the University of Buffalo hired him as an offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. In 2003, he jumped to the NFL.
During his college years, Lazor built a friendly rivalry with Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. In college, O’Brien was a linebacker/defensive end for Ivy League rival Brown. Cornell won both times they faced off during Lazor’s career.
“Coach Lazor does an excellent job. He’s a friend of mine; I have a lot of respect for him as a coach,” O’Brien told PennLive in 2012.
5. He’s Married to Nicole & Has 3 Children
Lazor is married to Nicole Lazor. They have three children, son Nolan and daughters Marin and Charlotte.
In an interview with Bengals.com, Lazor’s boss in Atlanta, Reeves, said Lazor is a great family man. “If you’re a good family man, you’re probably a good football coach and Bill is. He’s a great guy and knows the game so well,” Reeves said.
The Palm Beach Post reported that Lazor is the oldest of five children. He has three brothers and one sister.
His family is still based in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His father is Bill Lazor Senior, and their name is pronounced “laser.”
“He never lets it affect his actions and the way he proceeds from there,” younger brother Nick told the Post about how his brother handles pressure. “Probably because I can be quite the opposite, sometimes I wonder if we come from the same family.”
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