After flirting with Jack Del Rio, Dennis Allen and even Dom Capers, the Bengals have missed out on another defensive coordinator candidate.
Grantham has spent the last nine years as a defensive coordinator for four major college football programs. His most recent defensive coordinator job was with the University of Florida.
The move to Florida for Grantham was sparked by his head coach Dan Mullen. Mullen was Mississippi’s head coach for nine years and essentially traded his defensive coordinator, Peter Sirmon, for Grantham in his last season at MSU.
After their one season together in 2017, Mullen brought Grantham over to Florida when he accepted the head coaching job there.
Before Grantham partnered with Mullen, he was Louisville’s defensive coordinator for three years and Georgia’s for four years before that. Further back then that, he had a decade run of various NFL jobs and the first few gigs of his career in the 1990s.
- 1990-1991: Virginia Tech (DE/ILB Coach)
- 1992-1993: Virginia Tech (DT Coach)
- 1994-1995: Virginia Tech (DL Coach
- 1996-1997: Michigan State (DL Coach)
- 1998: Michigan State (Assistant Head Coach/DL Coach)
- 1999-2001: Indianapolis Colts (DL Coach)
- 2002-2004: Houston Texans (DL Coach)
- 2005-2007: Cleveland Browns (Defensive Coordinator)
- 2008-2009: Dallas Cowboys (DL Coach)
- 2010-2013: Georgia (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/OLB Coach)
- 2014-2016: Louisville (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach)
- 2017: Mississippi State (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach
- 2018: Florida (Defensive Coordinator)
Grantham’s defensive background surrounds the front seven, specifically the defensive line. He actually played offensive line for Virginia Tech in the mid-1980s. His third season, 1987, was the first season of legendary coach Frank Beamer’s career at Virginia Tech. Beamer hired Grantham two years out of college for his first coaching gig.
After spending six seasons coaching under Beamer, he took the defensive line coaching job at Michigan State, where he was hired in 1996 by then second-year head coach Nick Saban. After three years with Saban and becoming his assistant head coach, Grantham moved on to the NFL. He spent three years with the Colts before then joining Dom Capers’ staff with the brand new expansion team known as the Texans. Three years later, he landed his first defensive coordinator job with the Browns.
Grantham’s units in Cleveland slowly regressed in his three years on the job and he was fired after their lone double-digit win season of this century in 2007. He took the job of Wade Phillips’ defensive line coach in Dallas for two seasons before finally coming back to the college ranks in 2010.
In his 29 years of coaching, Grantham has learned from a handful of some of the great defensive minds in the modern age of football. How good is he at developing talent? These are just some of the players that he helped coach and/or helped recruit in the last decade:
- Jachai Polite, EDGE prospect (Florida)
- Chauncey Garnder-Johnson, CB prospect (Florida)
- Vosean Joseph, LB prospect (Florida)
- Jeffery Simmons, DT prospect (Mississippi State)
- Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers CB (Louisville)
- Sheldon Rankins, New Orleans Saints DT (Louisville)
- Leonard Floyd, Chicago Bears EDGE (Georgia)
- Ramik Wilson, Los Angeles Rams LB (Georgia)
- Shawn Williams, Cincinnati Bengals S (Georgia
- Brandon Boykin, Pittsburgh Steelers CB (Georgia)
- Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs EDGE (Georgia)
Grantham has a history of working with a base 3-4 system, but the average operates with five defensive backs on the field with an even front for the majority of plays. The typical 3-4 system has also evolved into a primarily one-gap attacking scheme, which is what the Los Angeles Rams run under Philips and what the Chicago Bears ran under Vic Fangio last season.
Alas, the Bengals are left to search for another defensive play-caller to help fix a defense that was 31st in expected points and Football Outsider’s weighted defense DVOA.