Recently though, Bates has stepped into more of a leadership role as one of the better defensive players on the roster. Many of the team’s long-time leaders, on both sides of the ball, have transitioned out as the new era is dawning.
With no Geno Atkins or Carlos Dunlap to captain the defense, that new era is going to be led by safety Jessie Bates. Now the team’s NFLPA rep, Bates is taking over as the voice of the defensive, and his play will hopefully back it up.
Bates had 109 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 15 passes defended last season. That play translated into a stout defense at times, but it didn’t translate into wins as the team ended the season with just four.
The free safety entering his fourth season in the NFL is planning on changing the standard that’s been crippling the fanbase over the last few seasons.
“That’s what you’ll build. We don’t know exactly what that will be. We’re not sure what the standard is. It has to be very different, though. That’s what we’re hoping for,” Bates said on the full attendance that Cincinnati received for voluntary workouts via Cincinnati Bengals Talk.
Bates also noted that communication will be a key part of building a winning culture. It’s especially crucial when you play a position that’s oftentimes the quarterback of the defense.
The duo of Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell is poised to be one of the strongest units on the roster. After not getting much respect in preseason rankings last year, Bates finished the season as Pro Football Focus highest-rated safety.
“Bates was the clear-cut top performer of this group. He led all safeties in the NFL in PFF grade and in interceptions plus pass breakups (15),” PFF’s Anthony Treash wrote.
Bates is only getting better too. The 24-year-old has everything in his arsenal to again be the best safety in the NFL; now, he just needs the defense as a whole to improve with him.