Trey Hendrickson & Logan Wilson
Of course, all the most important players do not just come from the offense. Defense is just as instrumental in winning games as the offense. As the great old adage goes: Offense wins games, defense wins championships.
Possibly the best free agent signing last year was Trey Hendrickson. He had one full season as a starter in New Orleans but it was a good season, even propelling him to the NFL 100 of 2020. However, it still seemed to be a risk, that would hopefully pay off.
Well, it certainly did as Hendrickson not only played well but he even improved from his 2020 campaign. Hendrickson recorded 14 sacks and three forced fumbles. He even recorded a sack in the Super Bowl.
Hendrickson has provided leadership and a building foundation to a defense that was truly terrible in 2020. His ability to apply pressure on the quarterback is a value that every team needs. The less time the other quarterback has to throw, the less time the good guys’ defense is on the field, giving more time for Burrow to cook.
Without Hendrickson’s pressure the Bengals certainly don’t make it to the Super Bowl, and they wouldn’t have a shot to make it back in 2022. The linebacking core is another place that has needed a leader for a few years, but it seems they have found one, maybe two.
Logan Wilson stepped up this year as a leader of the defense. Either he or Germaine Pratt was going to need to step up and lead this defense. Pratt could easily fit onto this list as well. His and Wilson’s development on the field has turned Cincy into a defense to fear.
Unfortunately, the world got to see Wilson have a bad call on him in the Super Bowl, and wasn’t paying attention to his entire season. Wilson had four interceptions and one forced fumble in 2021. The combination of Hendrickson pressuring the quarterback into bad throws leads to Wilson getting picks.
Not just Wilson but Pratt as well, whose pick helped solidify Cincy’s first playoff win in 31 years.
It’s no wonder why this was considered one of the fans’ favorite moments of last season.