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Bengals Safety George Iloka On Defensive Unit: "We Want To Be Smart Bullies"

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In speaking with the local media on Friday, third-year safety George Iloka explained what he wants out of the defense this year.

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During "The Lost Decade" of the 1990s and early 2000s, the Cincinnati Bengals didn't give fans much to cheer about--and that's putting it nicely. There were some fun spurts of offense, led by Jeff Blake, Carl Pickens, Darnay Scott and others, but that was about it. Just about every week, the team put forth high(low)lights where the defense consistently missed tackles and blew coverages.

Even with the renaissance ushered in with Marvin Lewis during the first part of his coaching tenure with the team, they still couldn't field a quality defensive unit, save for the ability to turn the ball over here and there. It all changed with the hiring of Mike Zimmer in 2008 as the defensive coordinator. Since he arrived, the unit has never finished below No.15 and has become a perennial top-ten group, culminating in their No.3 overall finish in the NFL in 2013.

With Zimmer leaving to become the head coach of the Vikings, the torch is passed on to his protege, Paul Guenther. Some believe that a step back could be taken by the group because of the coaching switch and personnel losses, but overall it looks to once again be pretty stout.

Don't tell third-year safety George Iloka about any hiccups, though. He's confident in the group and in his own play as starter at safety for the second straight year. He gave the radio voice of the Bengals, Dan Hoard, an interesting nugget regarding his expectations on the unit for 2014.

Iloka had a pretty solid sophomore campaign, his first as a starter. In it, he had 66 tackles, two forced fumbles, one recovery and one interception. A handful of his six passes defensed were oh so close in becoming more interceptions as well. In his second year, the 6'4", 220-pound Iloka was a presence against both the pass and the run. We predicted that this next season could be a big one for the former fifth-round pick.

How often were the Bengals the victims of being bullied by other defenses themselves? Need a recent reminder? Take a look at the recap from the second Steelers game last year. They have the talent, it's now about heart and execution. That's where Guenther will have big shoes to fill.