Cincinnati Bengals: Defense Has Plenty To Sort Out
Training camp is time for competition, preparation for the season, and finalizing rosters. The Cincinnati Bengals will have a lot to sort out before the season starts; decreasing turnovers on offense and stopping both the run and pass on defense will be paramount. It will be up to the defense though to make sure the offense has plenty of opportunities with the football.
The Bengals have one of the best “problems” in the NFL at this moment; too much talent on the defensive side of the ball. They have two young corners in Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick who will both be vying for a starting role along with veterans Adam Jones and Leon Hall. It’s something the Bengals can’t say they have had for a while. They have six or seven capable linebackers who want to see playing time, including newly acquired A.J. Hawk, injured veteran Vontaze Burfict, and second year linebacker Marquis Flowers.
The second problem they face is fixing the under performing pass rush. They ranked 20th in passing defense, according to CBSsports.com, this past season. It is something the Bengals took a huge step back on with the departure of Michael Johnson last season, injury to Vontaze Burfict, and the timid return of Geno Atkins. They must improve in Paul Guenther’s second season or it could spell trouble for their run at five straight playoff appearances and chance to get that elusive first playoff win.
The third problem should fix the pass defense or at least give them a chance to be a top 10 defense again. Their run defense ranked 20th as well, and the Bengals will face some of the tougher teams in the league including Seattle, Pittsburgh (twice), Bills, and Ravens (twice). They will have to keep the run game in check and force errors in the passing game. They brought in leadership during the offseason, and with a chance to get healthy and having brought back a few keys players, on paper, it seems the unit is poised for a resurrection.
The Bengals will have plenty to worry about on both sides of the ball as Jason Marcum from CincyJungle.com points out, but it will be the defense that “paves the way” if the team is to capture their fifth straight playoff appearance (and possibly the AFC North title). The offense has proven it can score points when key playmakers are healthy, but the defense will need to keep points off the board to win games; something that proved to be hard for them to do last season.