Mississippi State defensive coordinator Todd Grantham speaks to reporters about team goals this upcoming season during Media Day in Starkville, Miss., Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Todd Grantham interviews to become Bengals DC, emerges as a leading candidate

After just one season as the Florida Gators’ defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham has reentered the radar of an NFL team.

Grantham has been with Dan Mullen for the past two seasons now, the first at Mississippi State, but on Tuesday the 52-year-old was in Cincinnati to interview with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals fired longtime head coach Marvin Lewis back in December, and it wasn’t until earlier this month that the organization announced his successor — Zac Taylor.

Taylor has now placed Grantham near the top of his shortlist to be his defensive coordinator. While there have been no official reports following Grantham’s interview, a rather large domino effect could occur if Grantham lands a new coaching gig.

Impact of Grantham’s Departure on Florida

Gator fans will want to know who Grantham’s replacement will be if he accepts the job in Cincinnati.

In his lone season at The Swamp, Grantham made some key improvements to a defense that struggled mightily in 2017. Florida went from allowing 27.3 points per game in 2017 to only allowing 20 under Mullen and Grantham. Florida’s defense also forced the most turnovers of any SEC team (24) this season.

Arguably the only area that Grantham failed to improve was his defense’s ability to consistently stop the run. The Gators actually allowed a tick under six yards more through the ground this past season (159.8) than the one prior.

But for the most part, Grantham reinstilled a real sense of aggression and physicality back into the Gators’ defense. His exotic blitz packages forced many of those key turnovers, and Grantham showed he was rarely reluctant to dial up the pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Grantham’s departure wouldn’t necessarily signal an automatic change in culture for Florida’s defense. Safeties coach Ron English has experience as a DC from his stints at Louisville and Michigan.

If Mullen does decide to recruit a former colleague to fill a vacant coordinating position, Grantham’s replacement will receive a unit that is in far better hands now than it was before his arrival.

Is Grantham the right fit for the Bengals?

The Bengals hired a rather inexperienced coach in Zac Taylor. Cincinnati will be his first job in the NFL as a head coach. It makes sense for Taylor to want someone with a track record as long as Grantham’s to run his defense.

Taylor spoke about some of the things he’ll look to implement throughout his team and staff.

In many ways, the Bengals’ defense could use the same treatment Grantham provided the Gators. Cincinnati forced just 34 sacks last season which was fifth worst in the league. The also created only 18 turnovers all season which ranked 21st in the NFL.

Although, there’s plenty of talent remaining on the Bengals’ defense for their next coordinator to work with. Tackle Geno Atkins was once again a Pro Bowler last season. Safety Clayton Fejedelem also made the Pro Bowl. Cincinnati’s defense is not a unit that is far off from once again becoming elite.

Marvin Lewis was a great head coach for a long time, but a lack of fresh ideas and playoff pedigree caused him to lose his job in Cincinnati after a 15-year tenure. Taylor’s hiring and the reports surrounding Grantham’s interview, matched with the 11th pick in the NFL Draft, could help Cincinnati fight it’s way back into contention in the AFC North if A.J. Green and Andy Dalton are back healthy.

About Edgar Chavero

Sports media and management student at the University of Florida. Content creator for ESPN 98.1 FM/ 850 AM WRUF.

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