Bengals’ Playoff Run Starts With Attitude On Defense

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Oct 6, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Geno Atkins (97) sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 6, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Geno Atkins (97) sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports /
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If the Cincinnati Bengals want to get another playoff streak started, it begins with the defense. A nastier attitude and disposition will help turn things up a notch.

When the Cincinnati Bengals entered the 2016 campaign, the bottom line was a championship. After getting close to their first playoff W in 23 years, expectations were through the roof. The January 9 loss to the Steelers was going to be motivation for a push to the finish line. This was going to be the year that it turned around and a Lombardi was on the horizon. Instead, another season of disappointment was the result. A 6-9-1 record took its toll on fan, players, and coaches.

Things should be relatively different for 2017. With the 2017 NFL approaching and free agency bearing down, a few decisions will have to be made. Yes, there was a decline on offense. At least that’s what the consensus has been. But, actually, the numbers are close when you take a deeper look. Per the gurus at ESPN, the Bengals’ offense was able to churn out decent stats in both 2015 and 2016. The Orange and Black landed at No. 13 this past year while ranking No. 15 the season before.

While that may not seem like a big statistic, it’s very telling. There wasn’t a drastic loss of production. The slight change of position was expected, due to Ken Zampese being promoted to offensive coordinator. Actually, things could have been worse. Zampese was able to keep the Bengals in the top 20. With a few more tweaks to the playbook–and chemistry with the players–Cincinnati’s high-powered attack should be rolling again. 

Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals /

Cincinnati Bengals

Re-signing either Andrew Whitworth or Kevin Zeitler will be a huge plus also. I’ll keep saying it until the mojo works.

Get The D Angry Again

With that being said, it’s all about attitude. The Bengals’ defense will have to return to its roots. During the 2015 campaign, Paul Gunther’s men were a swarming bunch of hooligans. I know what you’re thinking. With that jacked up craziness, there were a ton of penalties. What if I told you, per Sporting Charts, that there wasn’t a huge difference in the number of defensive penalties? After all the attention that Vontaze Burfict drew during 2015, the Bengals had 40 penalties. That gave them an average of 2.5 per game. In 2016 (drumroll please), the number dropped to…39.

Yes. That number is correct. There was a reduction of one penalty. It wasn’t about the amount as much as the type. That’s where the trouble started. A change in attitude resulted in a tenth of a point being shaved off the average.

Unfortunately, the Bengals’ defense played like it was trying to avoid penalties instead of decapitating folks.  The first half of the season was a showcase in how to help little old ladies cross the street.

The second half of the year was on par with the 2015 unit. In fact, over the last eight games of 2016, the Bengals’ defense allowed 15.8 points per game.

Bottom Line Theory

The dilemma is easily solved. Get nasty on defense and the playoff run will be a piece of cake. But, the anger has to be channeled and productive at the right moment. It’s not always about stats. The Atlanta Falcons made it to Super Bowl LI on a high-octane offense and gritty D.

Look at the contrasts. The Dirty Birds ended the season allowing 25.4 points per game. Bengals fans witnessed Guenther’s Gang end strong and allow only 19.7. If only the red zone offense had shown up earlier.

Next: Who Dey Notes

It wasn’t Burfict’s dirty play and tons of penalties that cost the defense. A lack of consistency and a chip on the shoulder cost them some games.

If they want to get another playoff streak started…it’s time to get an attitude. The tea and crumpets are no longer allowed. A side of beef will do. 

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