DAVIE (AP) — Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo was promoted a month ago, and the hours at work remain lousy, as his wife and three kids can attest.
“I always tell them when the season starts, ‘Hey, I’ll see you in the spring,'” Anarumo said Thursday. “They laugh, and we go about our business. That hasn’t changed.”
Still to be determined is whether the defense has changed under the new coordinator. Early reviews of Anarumo are like the team’s results during this up-and-down season: mixed.
Miami has played three games since head coach Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle were fired and replaced by Dan Campbell and Anarumo, who had been the defensive backs coach.
In the first six quarters after the shake-up, the Dolphins outscored opponents 79-10. In the past six quarters they’ve been outscored 62-10, including a 36-7 loss last week at New England.
“You never want to give up that many points,” Anarumo said. “Ever. There were some things we certainly could have done better.”
Sunday’s game at Buffalo will help determine the direction of the Dolphins’ season. They’re 3-4, including a 41-14 loss to the Bills in Game 3 that set the stage for Coyle’s firing a week later.
The Bills netted 428 yards in that rout, still their season high. Tyrod Taylor had a passer rating of 136.7, his career high.
The Dolphins thought their defense was better than that. A repeat performance would intensify suspicions they were wrong.
Miami ranks in the lower half of the NFL in overall defense, run defense, pass defense, takeaways and sacks. Anarumo hedged when asked if his defense has top-10 talent.
“We have a group of guys who are going to fight every second of the game,” he said.
The group lost a lot of talent last week when four-time Pro Bowl end Cameron Wake suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury. Derrick Shelby, Terrence Fede and Chris McCain will combine to take up the slack, and Miami will hope for more of an impact from $114 million tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Anarumo said Suh and the rest of the front four remain a strength.
“If you would ask them, they would say, ‘Yes, we’re still the leaders of this defense,'” he said. “But to replace a Cam Wake, that’s not going to happen. He’s one of a kind.”
It was Campbell’s decision to fire Coyle and promote Anarumo. So it’s no surprise that Campbell endorses the job Anarumo has done, describing it as “amazing.”
“To make the shift, it has been almost flawless,” Campbell said. “Lou is a smart guy, he’s energetic, he’s confident, he has a toughness about him, and I think the guys feed off him.”
Anarumo simplified the scheme, and the run defense has been better since, with Miami holding each of the past three opponents below 100 yards. But Tom Brady torched the Dolphins for 356 yards and four scores.
And so Anarumo’s audition is inconclusive. He became an NFL assistant for the first time when he joined Philbin’s staff as secondary coach in 2012, and now he’s a first-time coordinator.
“It’s something you always had in the back of your mind as a goal,” he said. “You’re always looking to advance yourself in the career. The way it happened certainly was unexpected.”
“There are a lot of challenges,” he said.
Bring on the Bills.
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