After the 2021 season, most Cincinnati Bengals fans figured defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo would be packing his bags and heading to another city to be an NFL head coach.
It didn’t happen then, or after the 2022 season, when again, Bengals fans were waiting for the news that the team would be looking to restock their coaching ranks.
Somehow, Anarumo is still the Bengals defensive coordinator, which is good for Cincinnati and bad for the teams on the Bengals’ schedule this season. Anarumo came to Cincinnati before the 2019 season when head coach Zac Taylor was hired. In that time, the Bengals have added big-name free agents like DJ Reader, B.J. Hill, Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, Trey Hendrickson, and Vonn Bell. They allowed the sixth least points scored per game in 2022, and are poised for another solid defensive season under Anarumo’s direction.
The secret to Anarumo’s success is his ability to communicate exactly what he expects out of his players and helping them understand what is best for the defense is also what is best for the individual.
“I’ve alway said to younger coaches, as long as the players know that what you’re telling them is going to help them get better and make him a better player, they’ll listen to you all day, every day,” Anarumo recently said on the Bengals Beat Podcast. “If you’re not truthful, if there’s some gray to what you’re saying, they’ll see that in a minute. And that’s some of the coaches that have trouble. So be direct, be demanding, and know what you’re talking about, and you’ll have a pretty good career.”
Anarumo began his coaching career as the Wagner College running backs coach. He moved on to Syracuse in the early nineties and also made the switch to the defensive side of the ball. He went on to coach defense for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, for Harvard, Marshall, and Purdue before he made the jump to the NFL with the Miami Dolphins in 2012 as the defensive backs coach. He later became the Dolphins defensive coordinator before moving on to the Giants and then to the Bengals.
Over the years, Anarumo has coached a lot of players. One of those current players, cornerback Mike Hilton, has bought into Anarumo’s system and agrees with his defensive coordinator’s description of his coaching style.
“That’s as him in a nutshell,” Hilton said on the Bengals Beat Podcast. “Now, of course, he’s gonna tell us exactly how he wants it done, and we know he’s gonna put us in the right position to make the play. We just have to make it, and that’s kind of the trust that we have in Lou, and the trust he has in us.”
The 2023 season will be the last, as of now, for Reader, Awuzie, Logan Wilson, and Josh Tupou, who will all be unrestricted free agents when the season comes to an end. Then, Hendrickson, Hill, Hilton, and Joseph Ossai will be free agents after the 2024 season.
The point is this will be the last year that Anarumo has the entire core of this defense together on the same field wearing the same uniform. Since Anarumo should be a head coach by now, I’ll assume he will be after this season, and if that’s the case, hopefully his last year as the Bengals defensive coordinator will be his best one yet.