Despite an embarrassing loss to the Ravens, there were plenty of young Cincinnati Bengals defenders that flashed potential.
After a blowout loss to the divisional rival Baltimore Ravens, things look pretty glum for the Cincinnati Bengals. Joe Burrow is still taking a beating, the offensive line remains a liability, and many of the franchise’s long-time cornerstones appear to be wrapping up their careers in stripes.
It’s not all bad in the Queen City, however. The final score from week five, 27-3, might not indicate it, but the defense actually played well enough to win that game if the offense could have gotten it’s act together. Sure, they gave up 17 points in the opening three possessions, but one of those touchdowns was forfeited because an interception set up Baltimore right outside of the red-zone.
From there on out, Lou Anarumo’s unit only surrendered a field goal. The other seven points came from a fumble recovered for a touchdown. Even if Lamar Jackson was hobbled by a knee injury, that’s not a bad performance against the electric signal-caller.
The Bengals’ young defenders prevented things from getting worse
In recent history, if Cincinnati had a strong defensive outing, it was usually thanks to guys like Carlos Dunlap or Geno Atkins. On Sunday, however, that pair actually played a minimal role. It was the Bengals’ young defenders that prevented Jackson and co. from re-creating the highlight reel they forged a year ago.
It’s still early, but the early returns indicate the Bengals have finally found some legitimate answers at the linebacker position in Logan Wilson and Akeem Davis-Gaither. Wilson looks great in coverage so far and has already secured two interceptions. Not to mention, he nearly came up with a third on Sunday.
Davis-Gaither is coming into his own as well, commanding a shocking amount of snaps. He was on the field for 79% of the club’s defensive plays, earning more playing time than anybody else in the unit, even Josh Bynes. He’s drawing some tough assignments and largely impressing while carrying them out.
Rounding out the trio of impressive youngsters is Darius Phillips, who had perhaps the best game of his young career so far. He performed well in coverage and even made an impact rushing the passer, given the defensive coaching staff another tool to throw opposing quarterbacks off rhythm.
It’s clear Phillips plays his best in the slot. Once the Bengals get Trae Waynes back from injury, whether it be this year or next, it should allow them to field a solid cast of defensive backs.
As the Bengals attempt to move on from last week’s embarrassing loss, they turn their focus to the Indianapolis Colts. If they are going to find their second win of the season in week six, they’ll need a repeat performance from this trio of young defenders.