Grading the 2013 Cincinnati Bengals Defense

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As we continue our season grades for the 2013 Cincinnati Bengals, it is now time to take a look at the side of the ball that’s carried this team for much of the past five season in the defense.

We’ve already graded the offense, so be sure to read up on that. Now, here’s our season grades on the defense.

Oct 31, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is sacked by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (back) as defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) gets past Dolphins tackle Tyson Clabo (77) in the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line: A

Speaking of overcoming injuries, in 2013 the Bengals defensive line continued to be the strength of this defense – and one of the top lines in the NFL – despite losing their starting LE before the season (Geathers) and the top DT in the league (Atkins) half way through the season.

The Bengals displayed their D-Line depth by finishing 5th against the rush, 10th in sacks, 5th in PPG and 3rd overall. Call me crazy, but had Atkins not been injured, I believe the Bengals would have gotten at least the 2 seed and would have been playing in at least the AFC Championship game.

One good thing to come from Atkins injury was the development of Thompson (and possibly Still) showing his/their ability to play an important role in the defense – if not start next to Atkins in 2014.

Should the Bengals lose Johnson in free agency (and I fully expect them to), this line is deep enough and good enough to withstand the loss and still be one of the best in the league.

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