Will the defense rack up more sacks?
In 2021, the Bengals tallied 42 sacks, the 12th-most in the league. In 2022, their defensive sack numbers fell off. Their 30 sacks were the 29th-most in the NFL. But can the Bengals get closer to the 42-sack mark in 2023?
To do so, the Bengals will need Trey Hendrickson to have the production he had in 2021 when he recorded 14.5 sacks. Something else that will help the sack totals is if Sam Hubbard makes good on his goal to hit double-digit sacks this season. He has targeted at least 10 sacks as an objective after never reaching that number in his five-year career.
While Murphy never reached double-digit sacks in college, maybe the coaches and scouts saw something in him that suggested he could do it in the NFL. If they can pull that out of the rookie edge rusher, that would be a huge lift for a defensive unit that needs to create more pressure and takedowns of opposing quarterbacks.
Furthermore, even if the Bengals do not improve on their sack totals, the defensive line will need to do everything in its power to help out a young cornerback room and two new starters at safety. The more disruption they can cause up front, the easier the job will be for the secondary, which aims to be among the best in the league.
An argument could be made that the Bengals had one of the best defenses in the NFL without having many sacks. Imagine if they could finish in the top half of the league in that category while having an elite secondary. That would surely lead to the Bengals having a top-five unit.
Unfortunately, it would also mean the end of Anarumo’s stint in Cincinnati as defensive coordinator, as he would likely become a head coach somewhere.