The eyes of Bengals Nation will be fixated on the defense in preseason Week 2. A lack of improvement could signal a long regular season ahead.
By now, everyone is aware that the Cincinnati Bengals finished last in NFL total defense in 2018. Improvement under new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is a must this year.
We certainly did not see that in the preseason opener. The Chiefs put up 38 points. This included the Patrick Mahomes led starting unit going right down the field against the Bengals first string defense for a touchdown.
However, the Chiefs averaged a shade over 35 points per game last year. In addition to great players, Kansas City has a great offensive system thanks to head coach Andy Reid. Thus, the Bengals reserve defenders didn’t do much better.
Especially considering the opposition, it is more than a little early to call the 2019 Bengals defense a lost cause. However we need to see some life from the unit this week. Otherwise, it may be time to get nervous.
The Redskins offensive pieces are pretty average. They have a three horse race at quarterback. This always drags the entire offense down. The Washington ground game is solid, but Adrian Peterson is 34 now, and the rest of the position group is talented, but mostly unproven.
The holdout of seven time Pro Bowler Trent Williams looms over the offensive line. Lastly, the pass catchers are nothing to write home about. The Redskins offense ranked 28th last year.
All things considered, there is no reason the Cincinnati defense should not be drastically improved Thursday night. There is one other reason the Bengals defense better show up.
Redskins first round draft pick Dwayne Haskins will get a good chunk of playing time as he battles with veteran quarterbacks Case Keenum and Colt McCoy for depth chart positioning.
Drafting a quarterback would not have helped the Bengals defense or other areas of the team in far worse shape than quarterback. Still, some fans were dismayed when they passed on the former Ohio State Buckeye in the first round of the draft.
So, if Haskins goes out and lights it up against Cincinnati, fair or not, the “should have taken Haskins” noise will be louder than ever. That is something from which nothing good can come from for the Bengals. Moreover, the much maligned defense is the only thing that can stop it.