Week in Review: Grading the Bengals Defense: Postseason

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Linebackers: Coming into 2012, this was the most enigmatic of the positional groups on defense. Injuries further clouded the issue, though things are a little clearer now. The biggest discovery of 2012, maybe in the whole NFL, was Vontaze Burfict, who silenced doubters weekly with his fantastic play. He was quick, instinctive, and more importantly, under control. His play proved every team that passed on him wrong, and he looks like he’ll be a starter for many years, possibly in the middle in 2013 if Rey Maualuga isn’t re-signed. Maualuga started at MLB this season, and had some solid moments, but proved to be a liability, particularly in coverage, where he often found himself out of position due to overpursuit or for biting on a fake. Emmanuel Lamur was another undrafted free agency find, and could see extended time next season. This could be a position that is targeted in either free agency or the draft, and it could be a completely different unit in 2013. Grade C

Secondary: The secondary also came into the season with a lot of questions. Leon Hall was coming back from a serious injury. Nate Clements was a year older, and Terence Newman, another older cornerback, was added in the offseason. At safety, Reggie Nelson was a plus, but the other safety spot was up for grabs. The secondary as a whole struggled early in the season, getting beaten or dropping easy interceptions even when they did make a play. The three rookies added to the team also weren’t able to contribute, mostly due to injury. The unit did come together as the season progressed, especially after Chris Crocker was brought back, adding stability and a veteran presence. Next season could be even better with a healthy Hall, a revitalized Adam “Pacman” Jones, and some youth in the form of Dre Kirkpatrick and Shaun Prater. Grade B-

 

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Topics: Cincinnati Bengals

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