After defense struggles in '07, Bengals fire Bresnahan, Hunley

Just days after indicating that he was satisfied with the work of his staff, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis fired defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan and linebackers coach Ricky Hunley on Wednesday.

The dismissal of Bresnahan marks the second time in his five-year tenure as Bengals coach that Lewis has dismissed a defensive coordinator. Lewis also fired Leslie Frazier after the 2004 season.

In Bresnahan's three seasons as coordinator, Cincinnati statistically ranked 28th (2005), 30th (2006) and 27th (2007) in total defense. There was speculation at the outset of the season that Bresnahan might be coaching for his job this year. The Bengals have struggled on defensive all five years under Lewis, who originally earned his stripes in the league as a defensive coordinator.

Bresnahan, 45, is a 15-year league veteran who joined Lewis' staff as an assistant in 2004 after stops in Cleveland (1994-95), Indianapolis (1996-97), and Oakland (1998-2003).

Lewis likely will consider several possibilities as the third different defensive coordinator of his tenure, but one early candidate is expected to be Donnie Henderson, who has previously served as a defensive coordinator with the New York Jets and Detroit Lions, and who was a Bengals' consultant this season.

Hunley, 46, was a linebacker with the Denver Broncos (1984-87) and Los Angeles Raiders (1989-90) before moving into the coaching ranks at Southern California in 1992.

His first NFL coaching job was with the Washington Redskins in 2002, and he joined the Cincinnati staff in 2003.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.