NFL Insider & Sideline Reporter
I find it incredible that in a head coaching hiring cycle that still has five open vacancies and has seen over 25 different men interview for the job, Bengals DC Lou Anarumo has not received a single application interview. What more can a single coordinator do than what Anarumo has accomplished in big games with Cincinnati’s stout defense?
Consider this: Anarumo, 56, is 5-1 in playoff games with the Bengals, with a 3-0 record in road games while averaging less than 20 points in these games to some of the best offenses. in the league In the past two postseasons alone, the Bengals D has pinned Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the second half of last year’s AFC Championship Game, the top-seeded Tennessee Titans, Derek Carr and the ‘last year’s Raiders team. a year ago and now the Ravens and Bills this season.
Mid-game adjustments appear to be Anarumo’s expertise, but in reality, it’s a matter of flexibility and mid-game mental toughness that is most revered. The Bengals defense is playing as well as any group this postseason and the team hasn’t lost since Halloween. Anarumo isn’t a hot young offensive coordinator and has no NFL head coaching experience (two no-nos for many owners), but hey, can the man relate to his guys.
I don’t own a team and I guess I never will. But at the very least, I’d like to pick Coach Lou’s brain. Unfortunately, he has bigger fish to fry this weekend. Keep an eye on what the Bengals do after the half – that’s when they excel.
Travis Kelce’s historical section
The NFL announced its finalists for Offensive Player of the Year on Wednesday, and for the 10th year in a row, Travis Kelce was not one of the finalists. I think it’s unfortunate. Kelce had an incredible 10th season in his NFL career, and it may have been his best when you consider what the Chiefs lost on the outside when Tyreek Hill was traded last March.
In 2022, Kelce had 110 catches, third most in the NFL. It was a career high. He had nearly 1,400 yards, which was eighth most in the NFL. He also had 12 touchdowns, good for second-most in the entire NFL and another career high.
He did all this at the age of 33. Oh, and Kelce did all of this while having one of his best blocking seasons of his career as two different Chiefs running backs, Isiah Pacheco and Jerrick McKinnon, had big years on the ground.
Erin Andrews sits with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce
Erin Andrews talks to Kelce about his fashion sense and being the best TE in the NFL today.
Do we take Kelce for granted? Are we overlooking how special a player he is? Kelce, who everyone knew would be the No. 1 target last week, had 14 catches in the Chiefs’ 27-20 win over Jacksonville. After the game, Patrick Mahomes had this to say about his teammate’s ability to improve with age: “He’s smarter as a player … I think that’s the biggest thing. He knows how to get open. He knows how use other people and other parts of the concept to get open, and he’s smart about how he blocks, how he can pin guys down and get in the right position. He’s just continued to evolve and get even better as a tight end. It’s getting up there [in age]. I’ll try to keep it here as long as possible, I promise. It’s not doing any screens, like 80 [yards] I don’t think so. But he’s still going to have some production on the field.”
Kelce is the heart and soul of this organization and arguably had his best year as a pro. Either Justin Jefferson or Jalen Hurts will win Offensive Player of the Year. This is awesome. I have no doubt about that. But come on, how is Kelce not nominated?
David Shaw in Denver? It’s easy to connect the dots
The more rumors about David Shaw being Denver’s next head coach, the easier it is to see. I can confirm that Shaw had an excellent meeting with the Broncos’ new ownership group and there is a scenario where he is the head coach. I would also share that this decision is by no means a slap in the face as I write this, and Shaw is by no means “the top dog” as the ownership group holds it as close to the vest as possibly any group of the league
So, of all the coaches available, why Shaw?
There’s certainly a sense that Denver would benefit from his leadership and presence as the proverbial adult in the room. Shaw’s humanity and resume cannot be questioned. He was a longtime NFL assistant and position coach who picked up right where Jim Harbaugh left off at Stanford and continued to have great success in the Pac-12 despite his players’ rigorous academic grades.
Broncos owner Greg Penner, WalMart’s chairman of the board, has an MBA from Stanford. Condolleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State and another member of the Broncos’ ownership group, is a Stanford alumnus. Add links to Broncos legends John Elway (Stanford) and John Lynch (Stanford) and there’s a tie. There is a comfort in Shaw. Broncos owners would know what they are getting into and who they are getting into. But is it the best hire? This will be a decision made in the coming days. I think this is far from a done deal.
On paper, some might look at Mike Hilton and notice that the Bengals cornerback is a 5-foot-9 Steelers castaway. What they might not see is that he’s arguably the top nickel corner in the sport. And he had something for the cameras and the NFL Films Mic’d Up crew during Sunday’s win over the Bills.
With the game out of hand and the Cincinnati defenders feeling on the sidelines, Hilton said, “See you at Burrowhead. Let that sink into your head. See you at Burrowhead.”
Burrowhead? Yes, Burrowhead. With a win there last year in the AFC Championship game, Joe Burrow is 1-0 in Kansas City. So, Burrowhead. Playful joke? The bosses heard it. Now, Hilton will be tasked with stopping Travis Kelce on Sunday. Cincinnati has had success against Kelce over the last two seasons. Here’s to poking the bear.
My X-factor in the Eagles-49ers game is a pair of names few fans are expected to know: Eagles assistant coaches DK McDonald and Tyler Scudder.
Both are members of Philadelphia’s defensive staff. Both McDonald and Scudder spent time in recent years at Iowa State coaching the Cyclones defense. McDonald was defensive backs coach at Iowa State from 2016-2020; Scudder was a defensive assistant from 2018 to 2021. Why does this matter?
What is the difference between Jalen Hurts and Brock Purdy?
What advantage do the Eagles have over the 49ers at QB? LeSean McCoy compares the skills and accolades of the two players, saying the difference is huge.
If any NFL coach has a read on what makes Brock Purdy tick, what gets under his skin, what could make the kid who can’t be rattled, it’s these two. Every little bit of information and advantage helps. What are the chances the Eagles have two assistant coaches on defense who coached the same teams under Purdy at quarterback? It’s a game of inches. Hey McDonald and Scudder, whatever you got in Purdy, now’s the time to step it up and use it.
Peter Schrager is an NFL writer for FOX Sports and host of “Good Morning Football” on NFL Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @PSchrags.
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