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5 Bengals who need to step up in 2019

The Bengals will need these guys at their peak to make a run in 2019

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

“I guess change is good for any of us.” Or so one of the opening lines of Tupac Shakur’s “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” goes.

Often a coaching change can provide a boost for struggling players. A new coach brings a new energy. It has already been reported that Bengals’ new head coach Zac Taylor keeps score at practice and is getting creative in his way of teaching. This could help develop some young players who have not quite panned out yet or revive the careers of a few veterans who seem to be on the decline in recent years.

That is a good thing, because the Bengals need a lot of players to step up in order to be competitive in 2019. Here are five who the Bengals are especially counting on.

John Ross

Ross has had a rocky start to his NFL career — Scratch that. Former No. 9 overall pick John Ross has not had the impact that... No, that’s no good either. Ross has been a tremendous disappointment.

In true Bengals first-round pick fashion, his rookie season was defined by injury, but oddly there seemed to be no desire to get him on the field even when he was healthy. Hopefully the number change to 11 from 15 and addition of the “III” to the back of his jersey will help him to redefine himself under Zac Taylor.

Assuming Taylor’s offense will follow some rough blueprint of the Rams’ playbook, Ross would fit well into Brandin Cooks’ role. Ross gets pigeonholed as purely a track guy, but that really isn’t fair.

Ross is a talented receiver who has been horribly misused in the NFL. That should no longer be an issue with the new coaching staff in place. Ross needs to step up in 2019 to get new Bengals’ offense rolling.

Andy Dalton

“But Matt, he’s so fast Dalton can’t even get him the ball.”

Shut up. Seriously. That’s a horrible take. The difference in arm strength between NFL quarterbacks is pretty negligible. Dalton’s arm is strong enough.

Dalton has played at a Pro Bowl level in the past, and he needs to step up and get back to that level in 2019.

In 2015 with the trio of A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, and Marvin Jones Jr. Dalton led an incredible Bengals offense that was poised to make a playoff run until Dalton himself was sidelined with injury. Now with Green, Ross, Tyler Boyd, and young and talented coaching staff, the Bengals' offense could be on the prowl again.

The most important factor however is Dalton himself, who may not be in a more important point in his career.

Dre Kirkpatrick

A lot of people will scoff at this one as well, but the fact of the matter is Kirkpatrick is actually a really good player. He may not have panned out the way one hopes a first-round cornerback will, but he is a good No. 2 at the position.

His problem is that when he makes a mistake it tends to be catastrophic. This is what needs to be cleaned up. New defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s background is with defensive backs. If he can help Kirkpatrick make fewer mistakes, it could really shore up this defense.

Bobby Hart

Pauses for laughter... continues to pause...

We good now? Okay.

The Bengals drafted a tackle in the first round, but they put Jonah Williams at left tackle and moved Cordy Glenn to left guard (rather than right tackle) during minicamp. This could be the first of many iterations the offensive line goes through, but it appears that Hart will be the right tackle going in to 2019. To paraphrase Troy Blackburn, “Who else?”

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that new offensive line coach Jim Turner needs to step up. After all, it is not just Hart that he needs to worry about. Turner has to train a rookie left tackle and a second year center. He also has to figure out some way to shore up the right side of the offensive line and a big part of that will be getting Hart to play better.

Hart will need to play better for this Bengals offense to shine in 2019. Easier said than done.

Carl Lawson

Lawson looked like he was going to be a star during his rookie season when he had 8.5 sacks. In his second season he got a lot of pressures but only had one sack before an ACL injury ended his season.

Lawson needs to step up and be the 10+ sack-master that he can be. With Lawson at top form, along with Geno Atkins, and Carlos Dunlap their pass rush would be quite formidable.


Which Bengal needs to step up the most?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    John Ross
    (234 votes)
  • 21%
    Andy Dalton
    (178 votes)
  • 2%
    Dre Kirkpatrick
    (20 votes)
  • 43%
    Bobby Hart
    (361 votes)
  • 4%
    Carl Lawson
    (40 votes)
833 votes total Vote Now