The firing of Nathanial Hackett by the Denver Broncos means one thing. “Coaching candidates” season is officially upon us in the NFL. And believe me, the Cincinnati Bengals will be a part of it.
No, not because they’ll be looking for a head coach themselves but because their staff has one guy that will likely get interviews (and maybe even offers) given what he’s done for the Bengals this season.
I’m talking about defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. Although the NFL has an ongoing trend of hiring young offensive gurus for head coach vacancies, the 56-year-old defensive mastermind could get some well-deserved looks.
Here’s where the Bengals rank defensively in several categories 16 weeks into the 2022 season:
10th in success rate
14th in DVOA
Those numbers are not otherworldly by any means but consider the following splits in DVOA; in the first half, the Bengals’ defense ranks 21st in the NFL.
However, Anarumo’s halftime adjustments make them the eighth-best defense in the second half. There’s good and bad to that stat, of course.
Tampa Bay’s 4 drives in the 1st half:
Tampa Bay’s 4 drives in the 2nd half:
turnover (on downs)
HIS NAME IS LOU ANARUMO
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) December 18, 2022
But the tape reveals very promising stuff about Anarumo’s work. His defenses play a wide variety of concepts -especially in coverage- and aren’t married to just one thing. You can easily make the argument that the Bengals’ secondary plays at a higher level than it should be based on talent.
Bengals’ Anarumo can make a statement on MNF
But every stat that I throw your way will pale in comparison to the fact that he’s managed to fluster the super Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes twice since last January’s AFC Championship Game.
The famous “Drop 8” defensive game plan of his has some “Belichick vs. Jim Kelly” vibes to it and he did it twice already.
Now imagine if the Bengals defensive coordinator can out-chess Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in the same year.
Anarumo stands to win everything with a huge game on national television and he might just pull it off. To make things even better, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier might be in a similar scenario.
These two will be indirectly battling it out to impress front offices that tune in – including the “now hiring” Broncos.