The Cincinnati Bengals have been busy this offseason to get back on track to chase down the playoffs in 2018. How does Bleacher Report grade them?
The Cincinnati Bengals went to the playoffs five consecutive seasons before missing them the last two seasons. Missing out again in 2017, the organization decided it was time for some changes to be made if they were going to get back on track this season. Unfortunately, that did not mean moving on from head coach Marvin Lewis. It did, however, mean new coaching around the team and more personnel that are immediate upgrades for the Bengals.
Two notable names added to the coaching staff are defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and offensive line coach Frank Pollack. Both coaches have received high praise around Cincinnati and have talked some on what they plan to change. Austin looks to bring a more aggressive defense that allows more opportunities for forced turnovers and Pollack looks to adjust the schemes and develop the offensive linemen.
Cincinnati helped Pollack by bringing in new talent this offseason. Even the best coaching in the world couldn’t have turned the Bengals poor line entirely around in one offseason without some new faces. Trading for Buffalo Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn secured the most significant position of need for the team this offseason. Another free agent they brought in was former New York Giants right tackle Bobby Hart who will be competing in camp for a starting role. Then you have the first-round draft pick of center Billy Price to replace the departed Russell Bodine.
Glenn and Price are both significant upgrades over the former starters from last season. Hart will battle it out with tackle Jake Fisher for the other side, but worst case scenario is a solid depth player. Even with some of the concerns like Price’s injury at the combine and rookie linemen, he should easily be a significant upgrade over Bodine who was miserable to watch over the past four seasons. Glenn had an injury last season that took him out for the year but is coming into camp healthy and a top ten tackle when healthy.
These moves, in particular, should generate better production along the offensive line and in turn, increase the output of the entire offense. Then you have the re-signing of tight end Tyler Eifert. I get that he has yet to stay healthy for a whole season in his five-year career, but it’s an incentive-based contract which means if he gets hurt, the Bengals don’t lose much of anything. If he stays healthy, the Bengals have one of the top tight ends in the league.
Then we turn to the defensive side of the ball. Cincinnati brought in free agents like their annual inside linebacker position by grabbing Preston Brown from the Buffalo Bills. On a one-year prove it deal, Brown, will add support in the middle to help shut down the run game that has crushed this Cincinnati defense over the last couple of seasons. Brown led the league in tackles last season with a combined 144. They also brought in defensive tackle Chris Baker who has worked with Bengals positional coaches during his time in Washington.
Baker is not a great addition but will help fill the void next to Geno Atkins in the middle till the Bengals can develop someone better. The 2018 Draft brought plenty of talent to Cincinnati with the likes of Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates, Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard, and Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson. Austin wants to get more aggressive on defense and get after the quarterback, and each of these guys will help make that possible.
Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski wrote an article ranking each team’s offseason additions. While doing so, he gave the Bengals a C for their offseason work. When I read the piece discussing why he gave that grade to Cincinnati it talked about what the problems were last season, what they did to address them, and examined the injury concerns of players but it didn’t say anything wrong about their offseason moves.
We all know that the offensive line won’t be a top ten line after one offseason of work or that injuries to Tyler Eifert and John Ross can hurt this team. My issue is that Cincinnati went out and grabbed players from other organizations and through the draft that would help right away and plug holes. Did the offensive line get better with the offseason moves? Absolutely. Did the defense get more playmakers to help cause more turnovers and address the problem of the run game? Absolutely. So why are we getting a C grade?
I get that this offseason was not about grabbing the sexy positions like running back or wide receiver. This offseason was built around finding positional players that will play a role, not getting the top names at those positions. In Sobleski’s piece discussing why he gave them the low grade, he not once said why he didn’t have them ranking higher. Let’s look at the upgrades by the position.
Cedric Ogbuehi to Cordy Glenn
Russell Bodine to Billy Price
Kevin Minter to Preston Brown
Addition of third playmaking safety Jessie Bates
Ryan Glasgow to Chris Baker
Literally any linebacker in coverage to Malik Jefferson
Acquisition to pass rush depth with Sam Hubbard
If you ask me, Cincinnati did a great job grabbing guys to fit into the roster plugging holes and making the overall team better. Did they go out and grab the biggest names in free agency like Sammy Watkins or Aqib Talib? No, because they didn’t need to. They addressed the holes that were causing the team to struggle and added upgrades in numerous positions.
I’m not saying that the Bengals deserve an A+ grade for their offseason, but the C grade doesn’t make sense to me. Add on the fact there is zero explanation of why the low grade when Sobleski talked praise of some of their moves. Let me know what you guys think about this offseason and whether you agree or disagree that the Bengals earned a better grade than a C.