CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 1: Anthony Collins #73, Domata Peko #94 and Rey Maualuga #58 of the Cincinnati Bengals get set to lead the team onto the field before an NFL preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Colts won 17-13. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Now that the 2011 season is over it's time to look over every last detail from the Bengals performance. At times they looked like an unstoppable force while there were other days that they looked like headless chickens running around the field. The offense did a respectable job considering it was led by two rookies. However, the defense was suppose to be the glue that held this unit together.
And for the most part it did.
During the 2011 season and playoffs the Bengals defense allowed a total of 38 touchdowns. Of these 38 touchdowns 22 of them were of the passing variety for a total of 59 percent. The remaining 16 touchdowns were of the rushing variety for a total of 41 percent. It's not that big of a difference if you think about it.
During the regular season the Bengals allowed 21 passing touchdowns which was tied for 9th in the league. Overall that's pretty impressive considering some of the quarterbacks they faced this season. On the other hand, the Bengals allowed 14 regular season rushing touchdowns which was tied for 20th in the league. Even though that might sound some alarms, it shouldn't. The New York Giants were tied for 23rd in the league for rushing touchdowns allowed and they went on to win the Super Bowl.
But what does this all mean? Well it's simple, the Bengals defense needs some improvement. And this offseason the Bengals will have an opportunity to improve the depth at cornerback, the defensive line, and safety through the draft and free agency. However, a healthy defense should also help improve those numbers.
One of the biggest difference makers for the Bengals was Leon Hall. His absence was felt on defense after his season ended prematurely during Week 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the eight games that Hall missed the Bengals defense allowed 13 passing touchdowns. In the nine games Hall appeared in the Bengals were able to limit opposing offenses to only nine passing touchdowns. That's a big difference and who knows what would've happened had Hall not been injured.
Two other forces that were expected to be around all season, but Carlos Dunlap missed four games this season and Pat Sims missed five games. Without Dunlap on the defensive line the Bengals lost one of their top threats on defense. And without Sims the Bengals defensive line became even thinner. Sims had a solid 2010 season and he had higher expectations coming into the season, but unfortunately he was unable to stay on the field for the entire season.
Adding some depth to the secondary and front line will be important as the Bengals move forward this offseason. They will have an opportunity to address these positions through free agency and the draft. But the biggest thing for the Bengals next year is staying healthy. If they can manage to stay healthy then this defensive squad could be one of the best Cincinnati fans have seen in a long time.