The Bengals' defense fell off a cliff in many areas this past season.
The pass rush finished dead last after routinely being among the best during recent years. The run defense was nonexistent far too often. Overall, the team ranked 22nd in defense, so it's easy to say Paul Guenther's first year as defensive coordinator was one to forget.
Or was it?
Coley Harvey did a nice breakdown of Cincinnati's third-down defense from 2014, and it was surprisingly good, despite the unit's overall struggles.
That is the percentage of third downs Cincinnati's defense allowed to be converted during the 2014 regular season. Only six teams were better on third down.
According to Stats & Information, the Bengals ranked fourth in third-down percentage in non-division games. Their 38.6 percent showing in games when teams played their own divisions, however, ranked 12th.
On the road, the Bengals had a 35.2 defensive third-down conversion percentage, ranking fifth.
Third down is where the impact of a good (or bad) defensive coordinator is often felt most. Mike Zimmer's defenses were also routinely among the best at stopping teams on third downs, so it was nice to see Guenther's unit didn't experience a drop-off in that department.
Under Zimmer, Cincinnati finished 15th (2008), 5th (2009), 12th (2010), 7th (2011), 13th (2012) and 3rd (2013).
Oh, and lest we forget the Chuck Bresnahan days. His units finished 27th (2005), 32nd (2006) and 24th (2007) in third-down defense during his tenure.
Though it's a small sample size, Guenther's first year as DC was better than many give him credit for.