A lot of Lou Anarumo’s first season as the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals can best be described as being late. He wasn’t hired for the position until late February, and he wasn’t given a free agent addition until B.W. Webb was signed several days after the legal tampering period began. Once the regular season was under way, it took two months for any semblance of competence began to take shape within his unit.
Things have been progressing much faster in year two for Anarumo. That became evident when the front office unloaded tens of millions on starters in free agency, most notably D.J. Reader. And the impact that Reader and fellow free agent addition Josh Bynes have been making, specifically, have caught Anarumo’s eyes thus far.
“The new guys have communicated well,” Anarumo explained to Tyler Dragon of The Enquirer. “D.J. Reader has spoke up in the d-line meetings. Josh Bynes has done a good job as a veteran communicating in the linebacker meetings.”
Though he’ll be turning just 26 years old next month, Reader is one of the older and more experienced members of Anarumo’s defensive line. The Bengals not only valued Reader’s consistent play from his first four years with the Houston Texans, but his skills as a leader as well. That was a point of emphasis when they made him the highest-paid nose tackle in the NFL—seemingly out of left field.
Bynes will by far be the oldest member inside the linebackers room once the team can actually enter said location. His verbal guidance comes at no surprise to anyone, but it will be crucial in a year when Anarumo will be relying on many younger players at that position.
Anarumo also gave props to the other free agent additions that will ultimate define how well his secondary performs this season.
“In the backend, you have a bunch of guys who like to stick their chest out, if you will, in Vonn Bell and Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander,” Anarumo said. “All those guys have done well.”
It’s no exaggeration that half of this defense has been overhauled, and the changes will not exclusively occur on the field. Right now, when there is no in-person activities, having new voices asserting as leaders is imperative for a quick turnaround to occur.