Bengals defensive scheme to look different in 2018

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 24: Marvin Jones /

Marvin Lewis indicated that new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is more than tweaking the defensive scheme for the Bengals.

The Cincinnati Bengals are making the biggest overhaul in coaches and players in years. Easily the biggest amount of change under head coach Marvin Lewis. Coaching changes have been made on both sides of the ball including offense and defensive coordinators as Bill Lazor was upgraded from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator after week two of the 2017 season. Teryl Austin has been brought in from Detroit to take over the defensive side as well.

As the NFL meetings are taking place in Orlando, Florida this week, Marvin Lewis indicated that there is more than little tweaks being done to the defensive scheme. It was originally thought that new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was brought in to run a similar and familiar scheme that the Bengals have been running under former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther but now is looking to be a bigger change.

One way that Lewis knows about the amount of change going on is from his son Marcus who is making the transition from defensive line assistant to linebackers assistant this season.

“Marcus is mad at me because everything is new. He’s doing lot of drawings,” Lewis said. “It will be different. We’re going to be different. We have to get better. We need to get better on third down. We need to get better closing people out at the end of games. We weren’t good enough. We lost games we were ahead in the fourth quarter. We can’t do that.”

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When asked about how the players on defense will adjust after playing long careers under one system he responded, “They need the challenge, it’s part of being a player in the National Football League.” Some of those changes including linebacker Carl Lawson taking on more linebacker responsibilities in 2018, who played defensive end in college and mostly last season for the Bengals.

Lawson, who led the team in sacks with 8.5 on his limited snaps during his rookie year, will get a chance to rush from different positions in 2018. According to Lewis, the idea is not to cut the amount of rushing snaps that Lawson gets but to have him rush from different positions. The idea comes from former Baltimore linebacker Peter Boulware who Lewis coached 20 years ago. Boulware hauled in 70 sacks in his 126 game career in Baltimore and had five seasons of 8.5 or more sacks.

“I think in Teryl’s vision, he sees the opportunity to utilize Carl more in the base defense than what we did with Paul,” Lewis said. “It goes back to where I was in Baltimore. Those are the things we feel good about. That involves Carl’s abilities in the base defense.”

The plan is to help the secondary by adding more pressure looks to the defense and causing more pressure on the quarterback. Not allowing the quarterback to know where the pressure is going to come from on any given play and keep him on his toes. Providing more pressure on a consistent basis will hopefully help the secondary to improve their game as well going forward.

Austin was a secondary coach for three Super Bowl teams and with the addition of new cornerbacks coach Daronte Jones, the goal is to become more aggressive in the secondary as well. The Bengals defense struggled to cause turnovers in 2017 only intercepting 11 passes. Lewis feels that they have the talent in the secondary but need to better utilize their abilities.

“We’ve got some corners that have a lot of talent and ability. We have to do a better job of utilizing their abilities as well,” Lewis said.  “We can do more (press man coverage). We have to apply pressure and we have guys who can do that and we have guys on the back end that ought to be able to cover and give us that opportunity. “

The Bengals had a couple of standout cornerbacks in 2017 that made the best of their opportunities. Second-year cornerback William Jackson III, who was injured for his entire rookie season, came on as one of the better cornerbacks in the league. He took on the best receivers and could find his way to the number one spot in 2018. Cornerback Darqueze Dennard played a great role in the slot and was retained by the Bengals by picking up his fifth-year option.

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It will be interesting to see how the new scheme looks in the upcoming season. This amount of adjustments could indicate some different kinds of players being drafted by the Bengals in the upcoming month. Seeing what players they take in the draft will be a good way to look at how this defense will look different.