Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick seems to be feeling very optimistic about the changes to the team including new cornerbacks coach.
The Cincinnati Bengals have seen a tremendous amount of changes this offseason including both coaching and personnel. While head coach Marvin Lewis was retained after a second losing season for the Bengals in 2017, there have been multiple new hirings at coordinator and positional coaching spots. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick seems to like the moves the team has made including new cornerbacks coach Daronte Jones who worked with Vance Joseph who was the secondary coach for the Bengals from 2014-2015.
Kirkpatrick seemed at his best when working with Joseph getting his first start in 2015 and setting career highs in both passes defended (16) and tackles (70). Bringing in Daronte Jones could be good for Kirkpatrick getting back on track as Jones has worked with Joseph for years. Can he get Kirkpatrick back to his 2015-2016 form after a disappointing season from the cornerback in 2017?
Kirkpatrick had a late start last season after missing all of training camp due to an accident at home that he thought nothing of. It turned out that Kirkpatrick had actually broken his hand. When he got back just a week before the regular season and was not in the best shape.
"“I had a major setback breaking my hand and missing the whole training camp,” Kirkpatrick said. “I went to bed that night thinking nothing of it and then I woke up and my hand was swollen. Then I came back the week before the regular season and I wasn’t in the best of shape. I wasn’t really prepared and that’s when injuries come. All these little (injuries) would have been prevented if I had a better offseason.”"
Battling through different nicks and small injuries including his hand, a hamstring, hip, and shoulder, it didn’t seem that Kirkpatrick was ever fully healthy last season. He most certainly did not look like himself last year as he was consistently getting burned by top wide receivers. Hopefully, a full offseason of getting back into better shape and coming in healthy able to participate in camps will get him back to his 2015-2016 self. Maybe having Jones there as a coach will help with some of that as well.
The defense looks to be making a considerable amount of changes in 2018 under new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Cincinnati wants to become more aggressive and bring more looks to their defense. They have already talked about expanding Carl Lawson into linebacker roles instead of just edge rusher. With the recent visit of safety Eric Reid, it’s been discussed that the Bengals also want to use more three-safety sets in 2018.
If the defense can make some changes and Kirkpatrick can get back to being a starting caliber cornerback, this defense could take a step forward in 2018. They still need some playmakers but Austin’s scheme could help with the turnovers which lacked in 2017 only hauling in 14.