Bengals defense could be saving grace of 2017 season

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GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 24: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is sacked by Carl Lawson #58 and Chris Smith #94 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 24: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is sacked by Carl Lawson #58 and Chris Smith #94 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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The Bengals are looking to turn the 2017 season around. With the play of the defense, that could be a big key to getting it done.

So far, the 2017 season has not lived up to the rah-rah standards set in the offseason. At this point, the Bengals were supposed to be in control of their destiny and sitting pretty atop the AFC North. The reasoning for such thinking was due to the promise of an electric offense. With the addition of John Ross and Joe Mixon, the Bengals O’s were supposed to deliver “Oh my’s.” After three weeks, the redeeming factor has been the defense.

Yes, it’s still early in the venture. Three games do not define what a team is or can become. But, the facts remain. Digging out of a 0-3 hole is a hard job. To do so, the Bengals will have to lean on the unit making many of the spectacular plays. The defense will need to rise to the occasion and save the offense from further scrutiny (if that’s possible).

Vontaze Burfict has returned to practice and is eligible to inflict pain on the Cleveland Browns. Burfict’s Week 4 return should help solidify an already formidable defense that certainly looks playoff worthy.

They’re Ready To Rock 

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When Cincinnati made moves to bring in defensive playmakers, there was a groan heard throughout Bengals Nation. After allowing Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler to walk during free agency, the last thing the Bengals needed was more defense. Right? Well, that can be debated. Going into Week 4, the unit is looking solid. The 27 points given up to the Packers wasn’t entirely on the D. Offensively, the Bengals succumbed to more than a few three-and-out situations to put the defense back on the field.

Moreover, there was also a lack of adjustment from the coaching staff. Players can only “feel” so much. There also has to be sound communication from the sidelines.

After Week 3, the defense is holding its own. Surprisingly, for total yardage, the Bengals are sitting at number nine in the NFL. It seems like the defense should have given up more than 878 yards. But, it’s there for all to see. In fact, within the top 10, the Bengals are the only winless team.

Who’s making the D look so good? Actually, the unit as a whole looks stout. But, the same rookies that drew sneers from O-line hungry fans are making noise. Carl Lawson (2.5 sacks) is putting in an early bid for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, Jordan Willis has been a solid addition to the line and is giving offenses a hard time. Geno Atkins is looking beastly with 3.0 sacks.

Stopping Yardage Woes

If not for a few huge chunk plays and dumb luck, the Bengals defense could be ranked even higher. The players are well aware of the details and ready to make the necessary adjustments.

Linebacker Kevin Minter explained the breakdown in defense, per Cincinnati.com.

"“It’s just executing the actual game plan and holding up for four quarters. That’s really been the problem. We’ll do great for most of the game and a chunk here and there and that’s the knife. That’s the knife wound and that’s been killing us.”"

Next: Placing The Blame

It’s always the little things that can make or break a game and season. With this defense, the Bengals have a chance to turn things around. After all, defense wins championships.

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