1. Adding more help at EDGE
One major thing Lou Anarumo’s defense did in 2021 was harass the quarterback. Consistent pressure on the quarterback makes everyone else on the defense look better. How many seasons in the 2000s did Pittsburgh get away with crap in the secondary (Polamalu notwithstanding), and still have great defenses because of their relentless rush? Without researching, I’ll say a lot!
The Bengals did a complete 180 last season and went from giving opposing quarterbacks all day (17 sacks), to making their lives hell, (42 sacks). Quality edge rushers, as well as health on the interior of the line are key. The Bengals managed both in 2021. Can we count on the same in 2022? I wouldn’t bet on it.
So what should the team do to maintain the defensive heat? More edge rushers! Undoubtedly the Bengals will draft an edge, and the return of preseason phenom Joseph Ossai should help, but the more able bodies the better, and the addition of a versatile player like Carolina Panther Haasan Reddick could turn this defense into every quarterback’s nightmare.
The former first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2017, Reddick has 31 career sacks between the Cardinals and the Panthers.
So what’s the problem? Why has he been so productive, yet is on his second team? Reddick is a bit undersized as a backer at only 6’1″ and 235 and has had to make the transition to edge rusher and situational backer.
The Bengals are pretty well set at linebacker with Germaine Pratt and Logan Wilson, and also have a pretty sweet set of bookend rushers in Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard. This could free a player like Reddick to move all over the line, drop into coverage, or rush off the edge. He could be a potential matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
Slotting a versatile guy like Reddick in with stud edge rushers like Hendrickson and Hubbard could propel the Bengals to a top-ranked defensive unit in 2022.
I love bold predictions! The Bengals’ 2021 season was pure magic, and the team isn’t far from bringing the Lombardi home. While these are just crazy predictions, it’s my genuine belief that any one of these three moves could put the Bengals over the top.
Are you listening, Mike Brown? Bengaldom will see soon!