The Bengals had another season where they were never really in danger of seriously competing for anything meaningful. This was Year 2 for Zac Taylor and his staff in Cincinnati, and usually when things look as bad as they did someone gets the axe.
That doesn’t seem to be true for Taylor’s three coordinators, as reported by The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr..
The Bengals have seemingly gone with an unusual tactic of getting rid of most of their assistant coaches while keeping the coordinators in place.
If we are being honest only one of these names is surprising, and that is Lou Anarumo returning as the defensive coordinator. Brian Callahan and Darrin Simmons haven’t done great, but their seats haven’t been more than mildly warm up to this point, and Simmons seat may be as ice cold as possible.
Anarumo, however, has led one of the worst defensive units in football for two straight seasons. They got a little bit better in 2020 then they were in 2019, but that improvement could be compared to crawling onto the curb after spending the night in the gutter.
It seems Cincinnati is banking on the idea that this defense was so bad in 2019 talentwise, and then the injuries in 2020 also led to a poor result from the defense. Maybe now in Year 3 of the same system things will finally work how Anarumo intends them.
It really just shows how secure Taylor feels with his job. In Lewis’ final season we saw defensive coordinator Teryl Austin get fired after only nine weeks after allowing three consecutive weeks of 500 yard games for opposing offenses. Anarumo has four such games over his two seasons along with 10 more of over 400 yards. That means 14 of Anarumo’s 32 games his defenses have allowed at least 400 yards of offense to the opposing teams.
Callahan and the offense shouldn’t get a free pass though. This team needs to learn how to get a little more creative with how they are playing their offensive talent. The fact we rarely have seen Giovani Bernard on the field at the same time as other running backs, especially when this team was dealing with injury after injury, is just inexcusable at this point. He and Taylor will have the benefit of Joe Burrow returning and the offense will see a boost with that. It is clear though the strength of this offense probably lies with Burrow and not this coaching staff.
It will be interesting how far into 2021 all of these coaches make it. The leash ahs to be extremely short for all involved, so a slow start may mean an early end for one of these coordinators, and Taylor may not be long after. Cincinnati is content to roll the dice on this staff, and if they turn it around they deserve all the credit in the world.