Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer, has been one of the lone constants in a world of changes that the Bengals are facing this offseason.
The defense of the Bengals has been a major strong point the last two years, giving a huge benefit and advantage to Andy Dalton since he entered the NFL as a starting quarterback.
Indeed, there haven’t been many games that the Bengals have been down by more than a touchdown at any point in the game. That happens because of great position players up front and on the secondary, but it all has to start somewhere.
Zimmer has taken a young group of football players the last few years and has essentially melded them into the scheme of his defense from the ground up. Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, and Geno Atkins have all blossomed on the line.
Dunlap was taken in the second round, Johnson was selected in the third, and the force that we know as Atkins was taken in the fourth round. No first round picks to work with, and yet Cincinnati has one of, if not the most feared defensive lines in the entire league.
That starts and ends with good coaching. The ability to find raw potential where it was missed by others, and then the ability to turn that into pure talent in an NFL defense.
So when you see the man with a chip on his shoulder on the sidelines, it’s probably Zimmer. And there’s a reason for all of that confidence.