5 Reasons for optimism about the Bengals’ season

emcphillips
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 13: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of their NFL game at O.co Coliseum on September 13, 2015 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 13: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of their NFL game at O.co Coliseum on September 13, 2015 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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5 Reasons for optimism about the Bengals' season
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Improved Secondary 

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You wanna know how much a good defensive line can help a poor secondary?  Just ask the Eagles about their 7-2 start to last year.  While the Bengals secondary is not poor it has room for improvement.  Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick were 2nd and 3rd respectively in fewest yards allowed in coverage per snap in the AFC North last season, per Pro Football Focus.  Even more surprisingly, Josh Shaw allowed a passer rating of only 8.3 when lined up in the slot which was the best of any NFL cornerback.  Shawn Williams and George Iloka are no slouches either.  Having one capable safety in the NFL is nice, having two is a luxury.

Add a healthy William Jackson III to the mix and suddenly you have a very capable secondary.  For those who have forgotten, William Jackson is the 6 ft, sub 4.4 40 type of cornerback NFL teams love.  In his senior season, Pro Football Focus gave him the 2nd highest coverage grade in the nation. Add in the fact that his ball skills are as good as they come (14 PBU’s, 23 passes defensed, 5 interceptions in only 12 games) and suddenly this secondary looks more formidable than capable.  He’s had a full year now to digest the verbiage of an NFL playbook.  With an offseason of work on his technique, there’s no reason to think that he couldn’t have a big impact on this defense soon.

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