Bengals, Zac Taylor still without a defensive coordinator after another candidate rejects advances

The Bengals hired Zac Taylor because they wanted to find their version of Sean McVay, an offensive mastermind who turned the Rams into a Super Bowl team in two seasons. But the Bengals' biggest project under Taylor might be fixing a defense that went from average to shambolic last season. So, it's especially concerning then that the Bengals still haven't figured out who will lead the defensive rebuild. 

It's been three months since the Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, a month and a half since they parted ways with long-time head coach Marvin Lewis, a month since they zeroed in on Taylor as their preferred choice for head coach, and 10 days since they officially hired him. And the Bengals still haven't hired a new defensive coordinator -- not for a lack of effort, though. The Bengals appear to be trying quite hard to find a new defensive coordinator. They just haven't been able to find one they like who is also willing to take the job. 

On Wednesday night, Todd Grantham decided to remain Florida's defensive coordinator instead of taking the Bengals' job. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Grantham was the "top choice" of the Bengals and "does have eyes on the NFL," but he won't make the leap this year.

If you're keeping track, two candidates have now spurned the Bengals' advances. Last week, former Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers rejected the chance to become the Bengals' new defensive coordinator, according to SiriusXM's Alex Marvez.

Before Capers turned down the job, the Bengals reportedly showed interest in Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, whose contract in New Orleans had expired. But Allen ended up re-upping with the Saints. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Fletcher Page, fired Broncos coach Vance Joseph, who interviewed for the Bengals' head coaching vacancy, was considered for the defensive coordinator job as well, but he chose to join the Cardinals instead. Former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio was once in the mix, but according to Rapoport, "both sides decided it wasn't a perfect fit."

The Bengals got off to a bit of a delayed start due to the Rams' Super Bowl run, which prevented them from officially hiring Taylor until last week, but so did the Dolphins, who waited to hire Patriots assistant Brian Flores. Flores filled out his staff a week ago.

For a team that was already criticized for hiring a 35-year-old coach who was promoted from assistant wide receivers coach to quarterbacks coach this time a year ago and has been an NFL offensive coordinator just once before (on an interim basis, too), this isn't the best look. It looks like none of the Bengals' preferred candidates want the job. 

So, where to now? According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, the Bengals want to interview Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn. It didn't take long for that option to disappear. According to Rapoport, the Saints will prevent the Bengals from poaching Glenn. For the Enquirer, Page reported that former Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel and Rams cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant are also candidates. 

The candidate who ends up getting an offer and accepting that offer will have a sizable mountain to scale. 

The Bengals' defense finished last season ranked dead last in yards allowed, 30th in points allowed, and 28th in DVOA. While there's still talent around, defensive tackle Geno Atkins will turn 31 next month, defensive end Carlos Dunlap will turn 30 later this month, defensive end Carl Lawson is coming off a torn ACL, linebacker Vontaze Burfict can't stay on the field, and so on. It's entirely fair for candidates to be concerned about the group they'd be inheriting. On that note, the Enquirer reported that Grantham had concerns about the Bengals' aging personnel. 

It's also entirely fair to be concerned about the Bengals' overall outlook. They just hired a coach solely because he worked with McVay, which came after they stuck with their previous coach for far too long. Now, they're entering the 2019 season as the worst team in a difficult division with an unproven head coach, an aging mediocre quarterback, and an aging bad defense. 

On the bright side, at least they didn't hire Hue Jackson. 

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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