Travis Kelce shines; Bengals DC’s greatness; David Shaw to Denver? – Trending News

Travis Kelce shines; Bengals DC’s greatness; David Shaw to Denver?


I find it amazing that in a head-coach hiring cycle that has five vacancies still open and has seen over 25 different men interviewed for jobs, Bengals DC Lou Anarumo hasn’t received a single interview request. What more can a single coordinator do than what Anarumo has accomplished in big games with Cincinnati’s feisty defense?  

Consider this: the 56-year-old Anarumo is 5-1 in playoff games with the Bengals, with a 3-0 record in road games, while giving up an average of less than 20 points in those games to some of the best offenses in the league. In the past two postseasons alone, the Bengals D has put the clamps on Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in a second half of last year’s AFC Championship Game, the No. 1-seeded Tennessee Titans, Derek Carr and the red-hot Raiders team from a year ago and now the Ravens and Bills this season.  

Halftime adjustments seem to be Anarumo’s expertise, but really, it’s a matter of flexibility and mental toughness mid-game 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 popular, young offensive coordinator and he doesn’t have NFL head coaching experience — two no no’s for many owners — but gosh, can the man relate to his guys. 

I don’t own a team and I am assuming I never will. But at the very least, I’d want to pick Coach Lou’s brain. Alas, he has bigger fish to fry this weekend. Keep an eye on what the Bengals do after the half — it’s when they excel.  

Travis Kelce’s historic stretch

The NFL announced its Offensive Player of the Year award finalists on Wednesday and for the tenth year in a row, Travis Kelce was not one of the finalists. I think that’s unfortunate. Kelce had an unbelievable 10th season of his NFL career, and it may have been his very 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 the eighth-most in the NFL. He also had 12 touchdowns, good for second-most in the entire NFL and another career high mark.  

He did all this at the age of 33. Oh, and Kelce did all this while having one of his best blocking seasons in his career, as two different Chiefs running backs — Isiah Pacheco and Jerrick McKinnon — had big years on the ground.  

Erin Andrews sits down with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce

Erin Andrews sits down 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? Do we overlook just how special a player he is? Kelce, with the whole world knowing he’d 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 get better with age: “He’s just smarter as a player. … I think that’s the biggest thing. He knows how to get himself open. He knows how to use other people and other parts of the concept to get himself open, and he’s smart about how he blocks, how he can pin guys and get in the right position. He’s just continued to evolve and be even better as a tight end. He is getting up there [in age]. I’m going to try to keep him here as long as possible, I promise you. He’s not taking any screens, like, 80 [yards] anymore, I don’t think. But he’s still going to make some production on the field.”  

Kelce is the heart and soul of that organization and had arguably his best year as a pro. Justin Jefferson or Jalen Hurts will win Offensive Player of the Year. That’s awesome. I have no qualms with that. But gosh, how does Kelce not get nominated?   

David Shaw to Denver? It’s easy to connect the dots 

The more buzz there is about David Shaw being a serious consideration as Denver’s next head coach, the easier it becomes to see that happen. I can confirm that Shaw had an excellent meeting with the new Broncos ownership group and there’s a scenario where he’s the head coach. I’d also share that this decision is by no means a slam-dunk as I type this, and Shaw is by no means “the lead dog”, as the ownership group is keeping this as close to the vest as potentially any group in the league.  

So, of all the available coaches, why Shaw?  

There’s certainly the feeling that Denver would benefit from his leadership and presence as the proverbial adult in the room. Shaw’s humanity and resume can’t 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 rigorous academic qualifications for his players.  

Broncos owner Greg Penner, the Chairman of the Board of Directors at WalMart, has an MBA from Stanford. Condolleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State, and another member of the Broncos ownership group, is a Stanford alum. You add in links to Broncos legends John Elway (Stanford) and John Lynch (Stanford) and there’s a tie there. There’s a comfort in Shaw. The Broncos owners would know what they’re getting into and who they’re getting. But is he the best hire? That’s going to be a decision made in the coming days. I think this is long from a done deal.  

Hilton Express 

On paper, some might see Mike Hilton and note the Bengals cornerback is a 5-foot-9 Steelers castoff. What they might not see is that he’s arguably the top nickel corner in the sport. And he had a little 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 Cincinnati’s defenders feeling themselves on the sideline, Hilton said, “We’ll see y’all in Burrowhead. Let that sink in your mind. We’ll see y’all in Burrowhead.”  

Burrowhead? Yes, Burrowhead. With a victory there last year in the AFC Championship Game, Joe Burrow is 1-0 in Kansas City. Hence, Burrowhead. Playful banter? The Chiefs heard it. Now, Hilton is going to be tasked with stopping Travis Kelce on Sunday. Cincinnati has found success against Kelce over the last two seasons. Here’s to poking the bear.  

X Factor 

My X Factor in the Eagles-49ers game is a pair of names few fans would be expected to know: Eagles assistant coaches D.K. McDonald and Tyler Scudder.   

Both are members of the Philadelphia defensive staff. Both McDonald and Scudder spent time in the past few years at Iowa State coaching the Cyclones defense. McDonald was a defensive backs coach at Iowa State from 2016-2020; Scudder was a defensive assistant from 2018 to 2021. Why does this matter? 

How wide is the gap between Jalen Hurts and Brock Purdy?

How wide is the gap between Jalen Hurts and Brock Purdy?

How much of an advantage do the Eagles have over the 49ers at QB? LeSean McCoy compares both players’ skills and accolades, saying the gap is a large one.

If any coaches in the NFL have a read on what makes Brock Purdy tick, what gets under his skin, what could possibly rattle the kid who can’t be rattled, it’s these two Every tiny bit of intel and edge helps. What are the chances that the Eagles have two assistant coaches on defense who happened to be coaches on the same teams Purdy quarterbacked? It’s a game of inches. Hey, McDonald and Scudder — whatever you’ve got on Purdy, now’s the time to step up and use it.  

Peter Schrager is an NFL writer for FOX Sports and a host of “Good Morning Football” on NFL Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @PSchrags.

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