Jessie Bates is the most important player for the Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals, Jessie Bates III (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals, Jessie Bates III (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals free safety Jessie Bates (30) -Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Bengals are going to need a strong defense this year to give Joe Burrow a chance to succeed

There has been a lot written about how the Bengals can turn the script and by playoff contenders this year. Much of that revolves around the offensive line protecting Joe Burrow, the skill players stepping up, and the defense improving.

Let me tell you why the defense is the most important of these three.

If Cincinnati gets down big and is forced to throw the ball significantly more than they want to, they will lose most of those games. Not because Burrow, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd are not talented, but because the offensive line is not good enough to hold up under relentless pressure.

For the Bengals’ offense to work, they need to be able to mix up running and passing plays to make up for the lack of a dominating defensive line.

Bates is going to be charged with limiting the big play this year on defense. The more the Bengals can slow the game down and force opponents to field goals, the closer the games will be.

This benefits Cincinnati by not having to force a specific play type but playing to their strengths. Bates is going to be a huge factor in determining the pace of each game they play, which will help give Joe Burrow easier opportunities.