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PFF has Lou Anarumo ranked as the NFL’s best true defensive coordinator

Dr. Lou’s fifth season could/should be his last with the Bengals.

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Syndication: The Enquirer
Lou Anarumo
Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Mad Scientist. Dr. Lou. No matter what you call him, there is one title that awaits Lou Anarumo sooner rather than later: NFL head coach.

Anarumo is currently in his fifth, and probably final, season as the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals.

When he was hired prior to the 2019 season, Anarumo was a virtual unknown. His only experience as a defensive coordinator came when he was given the interim tag by the Miami Dolphins for 12 games during the 2015 season. Prior to that, his only other time as a defensive coordinator came with the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy from 1992 to 1994.

He was primarily a defensive backs coach for the Dolphins and served in that role with the New York Giants before being called to Cincinnati.

Frankly, Anarumo looked a little lost in the role during his first season, when his unit allowed 26.3 points per game and finished 25th in the league.

My, how times have changed.

Cincinnati improved modestly during the 2020 season, finishing the year at No. 21. In 2021, the Bengals finished 13th in the NFL in points allowed en route to their first Super Bowl appearance in 33 years. In the AFC Championship game in Kansas City, Cincinnati held the high-powered Chiefs’ offense to just three points in the second half en route to an overtime win.

Last year, the Bengals posted the fifth-best scoring defense in the NFL, allowing a total of just 19.6 points per game en route to their second straight AFC Championship game.

Most recently, Anarumo’s efforts were recognized once again as Pro Football Focus tabbed him as the top defensive coordinator* in the league entering the 2023 season.

*Officially, Anarumo finished in second position, but the top spot was given to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick/outside linebackers coach Steve Belichick.

Anarumo shared the secret to his success in a recent appearance on the Bengals Beat Podcast.

“I’ve always 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 explained. “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.”

And so will your players. DJ Reader, B.J. Hill, Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt, Mike Hilton, Chidobe Awuzie, Jessie Bates, III and Vonn Bell were all listed among the best at their respective positions last year.

Anarumo demands a lot of his players, but the results speak for themselves.

“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,” Hilton said of his defensive coordinator. “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.”

Hopefully, that is the kind of trust that will carry Cincinnati to a Super Bowl championship in what would almost certainly be Anarumo’s swan song before he hopefully reaches his dream of becoming an NFL head coach.