The Bengals defense is in a weird spot after a very up and down 2018, but it still has a lot of talent to build upon.
What the Bengals defense needs is for their key players to continue playing well and for key role players to step up where needed. If that can happen along with an improved offense, the Bengals should be looking at a big upgrade in how their defense performs in 2019.
Let’s take a look at some of the Bengals defensive cornerstones for the upcoming season.
1. Geno Atkins
The Bengals defense thrives when it is able to get interior pressure, and with that in mind the entire defense still runs through Atkins. One of the best interior defenders in the league he is able to consistently generate pressure along with his ability to stop the run. With his ability it helps free up the linebackers and the other defensive linemen making their jobs easier. His surrounding talent should only be better in 2019 so he should do even better than he did in 2018.
2. William Jackson III
The Bengals ascendant young corner is quickly becoming one of the best cornerbacks in the league. With continued growth and less pressure put upon him, he should be able to continue dominating games and shutting down opposing number one wide receivers. That kind of help can really stymie an otherwise elite offense.
3. Carlos Dunlap
Pressure is king in the NFL, and as of now, the Bengals’ premiere edge rusher is Carlos Dunlap. He is never going to be a consistent double-digit sacks a season guy, but he just needs to be able to provide enough consistent pressure that teams cannot focus on Geno Atkins, along with occasionally getting pressures and sacks of his own.
4. Germaine Pratt
It is a lot of pressure to put upon a rookie, but the Bengals linebacker situation is very far from ideal. Getting a linebacker that can move and cover like Pratt can could be huge for the defense. If Pratt can step in and help cover the middle of the field, he could help address up a huge liability in the Bengals 2018 defense. With that liability covered up, it would force opponents to target less successful options like the outside corners.
5. Carl Lawson
Continuing the line of getting pressure and keeping the pressure off any one player is Carl Lawson. You can’t expect him to instantly get back to his near double-digit sack rookie season immediately coming off a major injury like that. If he can get back to his old pressure-getting ways, he will be able to get pressures and change the flow of the game. Even if he struggles finishing the sacks, pressures can be a game changer for a defense.