Officially, Zac Taylor has been the Bengals head coach for nearly two weeks. Unofficially, it’s been a month since they decided he was their guy to replace Marvin Lewis.
And Taylor is exactly as close to hiring a defensive coordinator as he was when he was just another assistant who knew Sean McVay.
Fletcher Page of the Cincinnati Enquirer has taken a deep look at the Bengals’ search for a defensive coordinator, which is a more important job considering Taylor has never been a head coach and could use the kind of ballast McVay enjoyed in Wade Phillips.
To run down the guys who haven’t taken the job so far takes a minute, so you should probably sit down. And take a deep breath. And grab something to eat.
Vance Joseph interviewed for the head coaching job, but when he didn’t get that, signed up quickly with Arizona. Jack Del Rio reportedly wanted the job, but Taylor didn’t view him as a fit, and Dom Capers talked with the Bengals but that never went anywhere either. Taylor wanted to land Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, but Allen turned him down to stay in New Orleans.
Then the search moved to phase two, and it appeared Todd Grantham was the front-runner for the job, but got a raise at Florida and stayed there instead. The Bengals wanted to interview Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn, but the Saints are blocking that as is their right.
That leaves a group including former Falcons coordinator Marquand Manuel and Rams assistant Aubrey Pleasant. Pleasant interviewed this week and worked with Taylor for two years in Los Angeles, but he has no coordinator experience, and just two years in charge of a position. Manuel was fired after two years as coordinator in Atlanta.
The bigger concern for the Bengals might be the concerns cited by guys who said no thanks. Specifically, Grantham was reportedly worried about their aging front seven, which would have made for a tough transition to a 3-4. And if a guy doesn’t think he can work with what’s on hand, it compromises his future earning potential.
Staffs elsewhere around the league are basically finalized, which is what can happen when league rules prohibit teams from formalizing deals with coaches involved in the playoffs. That puts Taylor significantly behind, especially in the search for what is probably the most important position to his success or failure as a head coach.