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Who should be the Bengals next defensive coordinator?

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The Bengals paid dearly for making a bad hire at defensive coordinator in 2018. This time around they need to get it right.

Michigan v Michigan State Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

There is a chance that the Bengals will be looking for a new head coach in the next few weeks, but it is for certain that they will be looking for a new defensive coordinator.

The defense has improved since head coach Marvin Lewis took over play-calling duties on that side of the ball, but that is not a long-term solution. Having made the mistake of hiring Teryl Austin last year, it is very important that the Bengals find the right coordinator to get the defense back on track.

Here are some options:

Joe Woods

Bengals fans have been troubled by rumors that the Broncos midseason push may not be enough to save head coach Vance Joseph’s job. It’s entirely possible that the former secondary coach under Lewis could come back as Lewis goes full Blues Brothers “getting the band back together”.

The wiser move would be to employ Joseph’s current defensive coordinator Joe Woods.

The Broncos defense has been impressive this season, as Woods seems to have a much better understanding of modern NFL offenses than most defensive coordinators. The Broncos defense is everything you’d like the Bengals’ to be, primarily because of the way they pair scheme and personnel.

They primarily run a single-high safety look, but their man coverage is much tighter. Woods moves their top cornerback, Chris Harris Jr., around to make the best use of his talents, just as the Bengals should do with William Jackson.

The way he uses Bradley Chubb is also very impressive. Chubb is considered a linebacker, but spends the vast majority of his time rushing the passer. This is a blueprint for how the Bengals should use Carl Lawson.

The Broncos held the Rams to 23 points, the Chargers to 22 points, and the Chiefs to 27 and 30 points in two games this season. If the Broncos’ staff gets fired following Joesph’s inevitable termination, the Bengals should call Woods immediately.

Kris Richard

Kris Richard was the defensive backs coach with the Seahawks at the height of the Legion of Boom’s reign and spent three years as their defensive coordinator. Richard is a true Pete Carroll disciple who served as his graduate assistant at USC before following him to the NFL. In one year as defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator with the Cowboys, he has helped turn Byron Jones into one of the leagues top cornerbacks this season.

While offense may be king in the modern NFL, having a defense that rush with four with a secondary that can allow that front four to eat is still important. Richard can enhance the Bengals’ strengths on defense to a level they haven’t been at since Mike Zimmer was calling the defense.

Brent Venables or Don Brown

Defensive coordinators are having trouble adjusting to the influx of college concepts being used in the NFL. It makes sense for NFL teams to start taking the nest and brightest defensive minds from the college game, and Brent Venables and Don Brown are just that.

They are grouped together because they have a few things in common. Neither has NFL experience, and both are making stupid money as assistants in the NCAA. Also, with the current climate in the NFL, if either’s goal is to become a head coach (Brown has done it a few times at the FCS and D3 level; Venables has not), they may be better off staying in college.

Venables has been the defensive coordinator at both Oklahoma and Clemson, winning a National Championship at each. His defense has been very impressive so far this season and is a big reason why Clemson made it to the College Football Playoff.

His defenses have also been impressive against Georgia Tech’s triple-option scheme. How a defense plays against the triple option demonstrates their discipline and their coordinator’s understanding of the fundamentals of defensive football. Although non-NFL teams run the triple option, run-pass option (RPO) and zone read plays are built off of triple option concepts.

Despite getting throttled by the Buckeyes, Brown’s Michigan defense was the top unit in the nation in 2018. Before heading to the team up north, Brown coached an incredible Boston College defense. He has a great understanding of multiple coverage schemes and pressure packages.

The NFL needs Don Brown, and the team that manages to get him out of college football will be getting one of the best in the game. He is absolutely out of his mind, in just the way a defensive coordinator should be.