The Bengals have routinely had one of the NFL's best defenses in the NFL, and a strong secondary has played a big role in that. At SB Nation, Danny Kelly broke down the NFL's best secondaries, and the Bengals were one of four teams in the 'elite' tier.
The Bengals featured an excellent pass defense in 2013 -- both Football Outsiders DVOA and Pro Football Focus' pass coverage metrics had them ranked fourth in the NFL -- and held opposing quarterbacks to a 74.2 rating (second), 5.9 yards per attempt (second), and a 59 percent completion rate (ninth).
That was mostly without veteran Leon Hall though, who they return to the fold in 2014 after he suffered an early-season Achilles tear last year. Hall will re-join an already deep unit at cornerback that includes Adam Jones, Terence Newman, and Dre Kirkpatrick, and adding to the fun, first-round pick Darqueze Dennard will look to shake things up and secure a starting position as well.
I do believe the Bengals secondary has the potential to be elite, but I wonder how well they'll be with Mike Zimmer now gone. He was masterful with his blitz schemes, which often made it hard of opposing quarterbacks to complete passes against any Bengals DB.
That, and age may really hit the Bengals hard this year. Leon Hall (30), Reggie Nelson (31), Adam Jones (31), Danieal Manning (32) and Terence Newman (36) will all be in their 30s when the 2014 NFL season begins.
Not to mention Hall i coming off his second Achilles tear. He' one of the best corners in the game when's he's 100%, but how soon can he get there as he rehabs from his latest major injury?
In the end, the Bengals will have a great secondary this year, but I'm not sure it will be 'elite' when the regular season opens. That doesn't mean it won't though down the stretch and when the playoffs begin.