The Cincinnati Bengals’ defense took a huge leap in 2021 and helped the team reach the Super Bowl. Here’s why they’ll be even better in the 2022 season.
The maturation of Joe Burrow. The drafting of Ja’Marr Chase. A career year for Joe Mixon. Exceptional luck health-wise.
Those are all big reasons why the Cincinnati Bengals made a most unexpected Super Bowl appearance in 2021.
However, perhaps the biggest catalyst was a suddenly resurgent defense. Let’s be honest, since Mike Zimmer left Cincinnati for Minnesota, the unit had been downright awful.
Zero pass rush, weak against the run, undisciplined, and slow, Cincinnati’s defense was known more for the highlight reel plays given up and the head-scratching decisions than anything else.
Does anyone else remember Teryl Austin? The “zero blitz” to lose the game against Pittsburgh? Three consecutive games of giving up 500 plus yards? How about the famous spin move by Lamar Jackson that Bengals fans have had to see 500 times? Yeah, I want to forget all that too.
Zac Taylor brought former New York Giants defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo with him to Cincinnati three years ago, and the results of the first two seasons were less than stellar.
Anarumo’s hybrid defense struggled to say the least. After two years of ownership opening up the piggy bank in free agency, something crazy happened. The defense got good.
Featuring a strong pass rush from Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard, as well as solid play from castoffs like Eli Apple and Tre Flowers, the defense finished as an impressive unit. Though not a top 10 unit, it didn’t have to be. With the aforementioned Burrow and company, the defense just needed to be okay.
Looking to 2022, the defense should take another huge stride into the top 10, which could help propel the Bengals possibly back to the Super Bowl.
Here are three reasons the Bengals’ defense will be even better in 2022.