The Cincinnati Bengals’ defense showed a number of positives in their home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
The ending to the Cincinnati Bengals’ home opener was gut-wrenching, there is no doubt. However multiple positives were present in Joe Burrow’s debut. The rookie QB’s performance provided much hope that, frankly, was not always present in the era that proceeded him.
On the other side of the ball, a unit that was very much under par last year has a number of fresh new faces and looks revitalized, keeping the Chargers to just 16 points. Here are some of my key takeaways that provide hope for the Bengal D this year:
Bengals’ secondary standouts
Jessie Bates looked energized and aggressive providing help to Darius Phillips with a number of clean hits. Some believed the third-year safety took a step back last year, however that was not the case against the Bolts. The referees were guilty of some questionable unnecessary roughness penalties, but Bates still made a number of key stops, including a touchdown-saving stop in the back of the end zone against Mike Williams.
Adding to the positives is the fact that William Jackson looked healthy. The Chargers looked to begin the game by attacking him and he was able to keep a top wide receiver in Keenan Allen to limited action all afternoon. If the corner, who played so well two years ago, can replicate performances like this, it will take a lot of pressure off a`Trae Waynes-less cornerback room.
Bengals’ new DT’s step up in the absence of Geno Atkins
Mike Daniels and D.J. Reader were solid all game and provided interior pressure despite the absence of Geno Atkins. Reader did have muscle cramps late in the game, however, a healthy defensive tackle unit could prove to be one of the league’s best.
Finally, JOSH BYNES! Bynes looked fantastic and was present all over the field. This provides hope that, along with second-year third-rounder Germaine Pratt, the linebacker unit can be strong this season. Fourth-round pick Akeem Davis-Gaither did appear to get picked on underneath, but fellow rookie Logan Wilson was prominent on special teams.
Overall, the performances of both Burrow and the defense provided a lot of hope for the future as the Bengals will look to get back to .500 against a Browns team that looked lifeless against Baltimore on Sunday.