Cincinnati Bengals: Winning in the Trenches
Oct 13, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Thad Lewis (9) is sacked by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) and defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bengals beat the Bills 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
The old adage that games are won in the trenches has never been truer than in the upcoming 2015 season. Of the 16 games the Bengals play this season, 14 are against teams that either have a top 20 offense, a top 20 defense, or both. What does this mean for the good guys in orange and black? Trench warfare.
Yes, that is a little exaggerated, but it is somewhat true. The truth is, football comes down to a two simple things. Putting the ball into the end zone and putting the opposing quarterback on his butt. It really is this simple and it all begins at the nose of the football.
The Cincinnati Bengals started to get things rolling on the offensive side of the ball with the two-headed monster of Giovani Bernard and rookie standout Jeremy Hill. As far as defense goes, well, not so much. With Carlos Dunlap leading the way with 8 sacks, followed by the sharp decline to Geno Atkins at 3 sacks, the Bengals did little to help their cause in the most important part of the game, up front.
The Bengals, however, did do a good job of addressing this issue in the offseason by signing former Bengal(s) players Michael Johnson and Pat Sims. The Bengals have also said for a while now that Geno Atkins is more back to form after recovering from a torn ACL in 2013. With the maturity of Margus Hunt, Will Clarke, and Brandon Thompson, the Bengals should have this problem fixed on the defensive front.
On offense, every inch is going to matter. The Bengals seemingly wrapped this up this offseason by re-signing guard Clint Boling, and drafting two tackles, Cedric Ogbuehi, and Jake Fisher, in the first two rounds of the 2015 NFL draft. With center Russell Bodine entering his second season, the Bengals offensive line should ready to gain yards by run or pass.
With the Cincinnati Bengals playing the AFC North twice, the AFC West, the NFC West, the Texans and the Bills, there is no room for error up front. The Bengals recognized this in the offseason and addressed it almost immediately and continually. It will be interesting to see which way the ball is pushed for the Bengals in 2015, but one thing is for certain, if they don’t win up front in the trenches, then they won’t win in January.