ESPN’s John Clayton answered some mail and weighed in on the Bengals defense this year. Clayton said the defense will be good, but not elite. I actually agree with him – begrudgingly – but only because of the schedule. It’s a bit unreasonable to expect the Bengals “D” to be elite when Indianapolis, New Orleans, and San Diego are all on the schedule. I do think the unit could be playing at an elite level early in the season. Here’s Clayton Bengals Q and A.
Q: With the addition of Adam Jones and draft picks Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins, can the Bengals’ defense now be regarded as one of the NFL’s elite? Is that enough for them to repeat as AFC North champions?
James in Columbia, S.C.
A: Elite, no. Good, yes. What is lacking is a dominating defensive line. Antwan Odom did a nice job in the first half of last season rushing the passer, but he’s coming off an injury. Except for Tank Johnson, the Bengals lack size at defensive tackle. The exciting part of the defense is the play of their cornerbacks and the speed and tackling ability of their linebackers. To repeat, though, the Bengals must play better. The schedule will be tougher, and the Bengals can’t count on going 6-0 in divisional games like they did last season.