Bengals’ defense has to ‘put up or shut up’ for 2017

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CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 4: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles scrambles away from Geno Atkins #97 of the Cincinnati Bengals and Carlos Dunlap #96 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 4: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles scrambles away from Geno Atkins #97 of the Cincinnati Bengals and Carlos Dunlap #96 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Words are often the most powerful form of expression. Bengals Defensive Coordinator, Paul Guenther, summed up the new season with one phrase.

Any team in the NFL is only as good as its defense. Over the past few seasons. The Bengals have put a premium on making the defense one of the best in the league. Fans were outraged (and rightfully so) over the free agency loss of Reggie Nelson. But, in the ever-changing business that is the National Football League, Nelson got what he wanted and the Bengals had to adjust. After a down year, the D is being retooled and looks ready for action.

Players are reporting to camp in the best shape they’ve been in. In essence, the mantra of linebackers coach Jim Haslett has paid dividends. The plan was to have players shed the unnecessary pounds and play at their college weights. It may sound like a crazy, mad scientist experiment gone wrong, but it seems to have worked. Players look leaner, faster and more agile than in years past.

Additionally, the weight loss will help defensive players deal with the uptempo offenses teams will throw at them.Yes, that’s a definite possibility. With the pass rushing capabilities of Carl Lawson, Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins, there will be no-huddles to keep the same players on the field. It’s simple Football 101.

Guenther’s Gang Can Handle It 

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No matter what teams have up their sleeves to foil the Bengals’ defense, DC Paul Guenther will be there with an answer. Part of that answer is a simple one. Keep the other team out of the end zone. The Bengals were kings of that philosophy during the 2015 campaign. The only team better at keeping teams from scoring was the Seattle Seahawks. That year, the Bengals were the second best scoring defense in the league. In terms of the AFC, the Bengals were, of course, tops in the conference.

Guenther understands that this is a pivotal season. With the talent on hand, there are no longer places to slither away and hide.

"“I think it’s a year that we have guys that say ‘hey, we’re old enough now, we understand what we need to do,’” Guenther said, via Cincinnati.com. “It’s not about getting to the playoffs or winning a playoff game. It’s about winning the Super Bowl; however we get there.”"

Suddenly, that Domata Peko jab seems to be doing its job. But, actually, that’s a good thing. If Guenther and the defense are mad enough to do something, that will be a definite plus for the Bengals. Play mad. Execute with precision and passion.

"“Put up or shut up, no question,” Guenther added."

Next: 50 Years Old With Attitude

The Bengals defense came on like gangbusters, over the last half of 2016. If they can start the year with that same momentum and get even better towards the final stretch, look out. It may be time to reserve a hotel room in Minneapolis.

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