A year ago, it felt like a foregone conclusion that the Cincinnati Bengals might lose one of, if not both of, their coordinators. Lou Anarumo, in particular, felt like a coordinator that teams might be interested in hiring to be their next head coach, as he had the Bengals defense as one of the fiercest units in the league.
Somehow though, Anarumo only had a handful of interviews to kick off 2023 and teams went in different directions. Only five teams needed a new head coach so it wasn't a big pool searching for a new ringleader. That worked against Anarumo. What factors are working against him this time around?
As unfair as it might be, Anarumo might not be an appealing candidate in the head coaching market due to his age. He will turn 58 years old next August, which would make him the ninth-oldest head coach in the NFL if he was hired to run a team.
The trend recently has been to hire younger guys and Bengals fans know that all too well, as Zac Taylor is the fifth-youngest head coach in the league. Anarumo's age is absolutely a factor in why teams might not want to bring him in to run their team.
Another trend in the NFL when it comes to hiring a new head coach is to focus on the offensive minded guys. The Bengals scooped Zac Taylor up after Jared Goff had a career year under him in Los Angeles (Taylor was his QB coach in the 2018 season). This offseason, some popular targets will be Ben Johnson (Lions OC), Eric Bieniemy (Commanders and former Chiefs OC), and Frank Smith (Dolphins OC).
This isn't good for Anarumo because he's a defensive-minded coach. Sometimes defensive coordinators go on to be successful head coaches, teams usually want to pair a young quarterback with an offensive-minded head coach. That's another strike against Lou Anarumo.
Not a good unit this year
The most important factor in why teams might not be interested in plucking Anarumo away from Cincinnati is that the Bengals defense has been pretty bad this season. Fans were stoked that he didn't get stolen last offseason but this year, the defense has not been the same ferocious unit that Anarumo ran a season ago.
The Bengals defense has allowed the third-most passing yards (trailing only the Chargers and Commanders), and the sixth-most rushing yards. As far as total defense is concerned, they've given up the second-most yards per game, according to Team Rankings, trailing only the Commanders.
One of the most frustrating parts about the Bengals defense this season, however, has been the number of explosive plays they've given up. This could be the result of having a young secondary but whatever the reason is, it's not a good look for Lou Anarumo.
Bengals fans loved what Anarumo did for the defense in 2021 and 2022 but unfortunately, he hasn't looked like the evil genius during the 2023 season. This is going to work against him when teams start reacing out to prospective head coach candidates.