Bengals fire DC Teryl Austin, Marvin Lewis takes over defense

Stephen A. loses it talking about Lewis, Bengals (1:48)

Stephen A. Smith goes off on the Bengals for continuing to keep Marvin Lewis as head coach after defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was fired. (1:48)

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals have fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, a day after they allowed 51 points in a loss to the Saints on Sunday.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis will assume the Bengals' defensive coordinator responsibilities.

"I appreciate the hard work that Coach Austin has put into our football team, but I felt it best to make a change at this point in time, and I wish him the best," Lewis said. "I will be coordinating the defense from here on out and I am excited to do that. This football team has a real chance to get back to playing winning football so we can compete for the playoffs, and that is our sole focus."

Austin, 53, was in his first season with the team, and the unit looked shockingly bad at times. Not only did it fall to last in almost every defensive category, but it is also approaching historically bad levels. The team is on pace to break the 2012 Saints' record for most yards allowed in a season and is also the first team in the Super Bowl era to give up at least 500 yards in three straight games.

"It's very unfortunate," Lewis said. "Teryl has worked very hard here, but I just felt like we had to rock their world and shake things up. It's important where we are. We have to get this done, and it's our chance to do it right now."

The Bengals were down several defensive starters against the Saints, but their problems started well before many of those players were lost. It was clear that New Orleans could have scored more than 51 points had it chosen to, but it pulled some of its starters in the fourth quarter.

"The easiest thing to do is to change somebody, and the hardest thing to do is to try to help that person get better. I've tried very hard to be a resource, but it wasn't fitting right," Lewis said.

Lewis paused several seconds before answering questions about the scheme and the possibility of coaching changes during Sunday night's news conference. Lewis declined to discuss any changes at the time.

This is the second straight season the Bengals have fired a coordinator during the season. Prior to last season, the Bengals had never fired a coordinator during the season in the history of the franchise.

They fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese just two games into last season after the players, including star wideout A.J. Green, appeared to be growing increasingly frustrated after failing to score a touchdown in either game. Zampese had been with the team since 2003 as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator.