The Cincinnati Bengals improved their defense this offseason. While they lost a few linebackers and a few cornerbacks, most would presume that the unit should be better in 2020.
While the sky is the limit, most are assuming this unit will hit rock bottom instead.
That’s an odd claim after the Bengals turned it up defensively to end 2019. That said, Football Outsiders ranked the Bengals’ 2019 defense 28th-best in the league, mostly due to a few horrific weeks to kick off the season.
24th in opponent’s points per game, the Bengals lost some early-season games because they just couldn’t contain their opponent on the ground.
The bulk of the issues came from running backs or mobile quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson. Last season, the Bengals gave up the most rushing yards in the league, nearing 3,000 yards by opponents on the ground.
That’s why they brought in defensive tackle D.J. Reader. It was a clear issue that they went out and solved. With Reader’s addition, the last major hole was at linebacker, a position they also filled with the drafting of Wyoming LB Logan Wilson.
That hasn’t kept most that cover the spot pleased with the defense though as Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar pegged them as the worst unit in the league. Here’s his opinion on how the Bengals will fare this coming season.
The Bengals went all-out in the offseason to try and improve a defense that started and finished the season out of sorts. They signed former Texans defensive tackle D.J. Reader to pair with Geno Atkins, and signed Vikings reclamation cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. In the draft, they tried to solve their obvious linebacker problems with the selections of Wyoming’s Logan Wilson and Appalachian State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither. But there isn’t enough to improve upon a group that posted just 31 sacks last season (though Reader is an underrated interior pass-rusher), and under defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo in 2019, this defense often didn’t look as if it knew what it was supposed to be doing.
To call an opinion wrong isn’t quite logical: anyone can have one. You can make all the points you want, but the Bengals were able to improve their major flaws this offseason and should do well with Anarumo who will get a second year with Zac Taylor.
Things are trending up in Cincinnati, and it’d be shocking to see them end the 2020 season with the league’s worst defense.