Former Bear Krenzel endorses Zampese

Ken Zampese has extensive knowledge of all phases of an offense, according to Craig Krenzel. Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

CHICAGO -- It doesn't take long for Craig Krenzel to return a phone call when somebody wants to discuss his former Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese.

Krenzel, a former Bears' fifth-round choice out of Ohio State in 2004, spent just one season (2005) with Zampese in Cincinnati, but says he came away with an inordinate amount of football knowledge. That, in itself, counts for something, because as most of us know, Krenzel graduated from Ohio State with a degree in molecular genetics.

Say what you want about Krenzel's professional football career (cut short by a 2006 elbow injury), his intelligence on or off-the-field should not be questioned.

"Even though Ken never played quarterback, from a preparation standpoint, you would have thought he played the position," Krenzel told ESPNChicago.com Wednesday. "His knowledge of the game, the way he prepared us allowed me to learn a ton from him, even though I was only there for a short period of time. And I don't limit that to just his understanding of the quarterback position. He understood the entire offense.

"We would talk all the time in film study about X's and O's, who needs to be blocked, what route was run, etc. He was highly involved with [Bengals offensive coordinator] Bob Bratkowski in the passing game. I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable guy, but I learned a ton being around Ken."

Krenzel considers himself lucky to have worked with two outstanding professional quarterbacks coaches: Zampese in Cincinnati and Wade Wilson in Chicago. Wilson was part of Lovie Smith's original staff in 2004, and somebody Krenzel respects to this day, although it's funny to hear how Wilson's coaching style differs from Zampese's.

"I loved Wade, loved the guy," Krenzel said. "Wade had that cool, laid-back Texas style of discussing things, but in the end, you always knew he came to the correct conclusion. He took a little bit of time to get there, but he knew exactly what he was talking about.

"Same thing with Ken, although personality-wise he's a lot different than Wade. Zampese is like the micro-machine guy. He moves a million miles a minute, constantly harping on details, the little things, he gets straight to the point. The guy is football 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. I always thought he'd be a good coordinator."

But Zampese has never risen above the rank of quarterbacks coach, even though he has interviewed for several coordinator positions in the past. Even a staunch Zampese supporter like Krenzel admits it's always a gamble hiring somebody with no prior play-calling experience.

"Of course, the one unknown is game-day play-calling, because that is truly an art form at the NFL level," Krenzel said. "People just don't understand everything that goes into calling plays during an NFL game. Still, even though I was only with him for a short period of time, I think he's a great coach, and certainly qualified to run an offense."

"I'm very surprised it's taken him this long to get a coordinator job."