How the Cincinnati Bengals can retool their defense this off-season
The Cincinnati Bengal’s defense was statistically one of the worst in the NFL throughout 2019. However, they did show improvement towards the latter part of the season. That being said, there is plenty of room for improvement and this off-season provides the opportunity to do just that.
The 2019 season had its ups and down for Lou Anarumo and the Cincinnati Bengals defense. The Bengals finished the season 30th in the league in points allowed and 26th in yards allowed. However, the unit did show improvement towards the end of the year.
Different things can factor in this improvement. Guys become more comfortable in their role, being as this was their first year with a new staff. Players like Darqueze Dennard coming back from injury gave the unit a boost and letting some players go gave an opportunity for younger, more athletic guys to shine, as could be seen in the linebacker unit.
If you look beyond the statistics, Anarumo showed some things to be hopeful about as the Bengals continue to build this defensive unit. The first-year coordinator deployed multiple front looks as opposed to the standard 4-3 base used by Marvin Lewis for over a decade. This allowed guys to be put in a position to play to their strengths and get more comfortable in what they were being asked to do as the season went on.
While the scheme shows promise, the Bengals need more athletes for this unit to reach its full potential. There are pieces in place, there just aren’t enough. If you look at the roster as it is, each position group has a foundation of young players still under contract to build around. You have Carl Lawson and Sam Hubbard on the D-line, Germaine Pratt at linebacker, and William Jackson, Jessie Bates, Shawn Williams, and Darius Phillips in the secondary.
Not a bad young core at all, however, there simply isn’t enough to compete in the long term. Of course, Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap are still under contract as well. Both are still playing at a high level. Unfortunately, they aren’t getting any younger and no one knows how much longer they can sustain their current level of play. This brings us to our first question of the off-season.