Additionally, within the Cincinnati linebackers, hybridized players have become an increasing trend. Emmanuel Lamur and Taylor Mays represent converted safeties into linebackers or “nickel backers,” offering greater coverage without sacrificing size at the second level. With the pervasiveness of blitzing schemes, it is interesting to consider the meaning of veteran Dontay Moch’s entry on the official team roster as a linebacker when all other previous years have had him clearly listed as a defense end. Could this suggest Coach Guenther is going to be hinging this defense even more critically upon his middle three? Further, witnessing Margus Hunt dropping into shallow coverage from the front four begs the question: will defense ends and SAM linebackers fold rolls to add an additional wrinkle to this year’s orange incarnation of the defense?
Lastly, the addition of Defensive Backs Coach Vance Joseph cannot be underscored enough. Like Jordan Palmer as the third string quarterback from 2008 to 2010, Coach Zimmer’s son, Adam Zimmer, arguably served as a shallow proxy and understudy for his father; a limited role in terms of decentralized coaching techniques. Coach Joseph is a massive upgrade within the secondary, especially at this specific point where a crop of Bengals corners is nearing the end of their lifespan, and a new generation prepares to take on a greater responsibility.
While the fan base remains focused (and critical) of the offense and its capacity under Dalton, no voice is being given to the defensive changing of the guard. Folks assume the players’ success will translate beyond coaching as it does in the NBA. While this is not a call to arms or a pressing of the panic button, Bengals fans should take note that defensive success in 2014 is more multi-causal than a first round cornerback or the loss of a marquee pass rusher.
This is Guenther’s defense now. Expect the unexpected.