Can the Bengals’ defense make a comeback?

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Sep 29, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) against the Miami Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 22-7. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) against the Miami Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 22-7. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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When talking Cincinnati Bengals, it’s usually about the offense. But, this year could mark a comeback for a swarming defense.

When the talk is about the Cincinnati Bengals, it’s usually pretty simple. You start with playoff possibilities, move to Andy Dalton’s primetime struggles and throw in a heaping helping of Marvin Lewis. But, there was one thing that helped define some of the better Bengals teams of the past. A stout and solid defense was somewhere in the mix. If Cincinnati wants to venture into the Holy Grail of the postseason, they’ll have to get back to what fueled the 2015 run.

Let’s be real about it. The Bengals’ D wasn’t an elite group of headhunters during the amazing campaign of two years ago. But, they did have the passion and desire to be the best and get the job done at any cost. Unfortunately, that meant a few penalties. Yet, the unit was sound enough to help win the AFC North crown. Isn’t that the whole purpose?

Going into the 2017 season, the mantra was loud and clear. The Bengals had to get younger and faster on defense. Last year, the defense started out slow and seemed as if it would never catch a break. Players looked winded, out of shape and generally out-of-place. Part of the problem could be traced back to a reboot with the coaching staff. Eventually, things settled down and the defense looked more comfortable towards the end of the season. But, the damage had been done. The 6-9-1 record wasn’t totally on the shoulders of the D but there was enough to share.

Related Story: Competitive D

A New Beginning

The young warriors are ready to make names for themselves. If the problem was one of age, it shouldn’t rear its head this season. The Bengals picked up game changing players to get the chains moving backward for the opponents. Add them to the youngsters who have been waiting in the wings and you have a recipe for defensive domination.

Andrew Billings looks like he’s ready to make a splash in the NFL. He’s back from a torn meniscus and ready to take that spot vacated by Domata Peko. Here’s a little reminder of his talent. In 2015, he was the Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year and also received All-American honors. He terrorized QB’s for 8.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss. Doesn’t that sound awesome next to Geno Atkins?

A Luxury To Have

One of the new faces is Carl Lawson. He’s a pass-rushing linebacker who has the added skill set of putting his hand down and coming off the edge. He was able to gather 13.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. The Bengals have the luxury of trying to find out where to use his talents.

"“He’s smart. A real smart guy. Picks it up. Studies. He’s always up watching tape,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said, via Bengals.com. “He’s going to be good … We know he can go forward. (Dropping into coverage) he’s going to have to work on. Down the road  you can do a whole bunch of things with him once he understands the schematics of the defense. It’s a whole new chess piece for us.”"

Next: Green With Confidence

Cincinnati’s defense looks terrifying, at first glance. But, that’s the problem. Transferring that talent to the NFL can be tricky. Fortunately, Guenther has the toys to make this season one to remember.

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