Landing several key players in free agency is already paying off for the Cincinnati Bengals as the new blood shows their leadership.
After the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense limped to another disappointing performance, it became ever more evident that a shuffling of personnel was necessary. The front office did just that, bringing in numerous free-agents from the open market, primarily on the defensive side of the ball.
As the transactions rolled in, one thing became evident: the team was locating leaders to be the pillars of defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s defense.
D.J. Reader, the crown jewel of the free-agent class, is known for his work off the field just as much as he’s respected for his resume is on it. His efforts in the community earned him the honor of being the Houston Texan’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.
The leadership pedigree doesn’t stop there. Vonn Bell brings a championship mindset to the table after a college football career with the Ohio State Buckeyes as well as a run with the highly successful New Orleans Saints. In both instances, Bell was known for his fiery role both on and off the field.
While catching up with Anarumo, Cincinnati Enquirer’s Tyler Dragon discovered that Reader, Bell, and the others are already making an impact, even though the team has yet to meet in person,
"“D.J. Reader has spoke up in the d-line meetings. Josh Bynes has done a good job as a veteran communicating in the linebacker meetings. In the backend, you have a bunch of guys who like to stick their chest out, if you will, in Vonn Bell and Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander.”"
This should come as no surprise to the orange and black faithful. In both the draft and the free-agent period, the Bengals made it clear they were looking to find strong leadership. It appears that they have done just that.
The veterans aren’t the only players that are earning their stripes quickly. Anarumo had this to say about their rookie class,
"“All of them have done well on our side and their football IQ…We are pleased so far.”"
Again, nothing to be surprised about. It has been well documented that the Bengals drafted seven prospects that had high intelligence in addition to their physical attributes and impressive array of production.
Off to a fast start, Zac Taylor and company will look to utilize the new-found strength of the team to turn around a defense that was once to be feared.