The Bengals have a very long tradition of expecting their defensive linemen to be versatile and line up at multiple different positions. That become a bigger expectation since defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo took over and brought in his 3-4 hybrid.
That is where newly acquired pass rusher, Trey Hendrickson, comes in. The Bengals gave him a $60 million deal this offseason after he had 13.5 sacks in 2020 with the Saints. He at 6’4” and 270 pounds he is an ideal fit to be moved around and find the best spot to rush the passer. It seems like he is excited about that.
“Some of the things they have us doing is dropping and stuff like that and playing a lot of this rush technique and outside rushing,” Hendrickson told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “Not necessarily in a 4 or 6 (alignment), stuff like that. Sometimes we are playing around with it. There are times I’m lined up at three (tackle). It’s going to be a fun season, it’s a lot to absorb. But I’ve got a good group of guys that are helping me along the way. Sam (Hubbard) and D.J. (Reader are) helping me learn this playbook.”
Hendrickson found most of his success coming from attacking offensive tackles from the 7-technique spot, which is just inside from the wide 9-technique spot. Odds are we will see plenty of him attacking out wide again, but keeping the offense guessing about where he will lineup is never a bad thing as long as he is effective there.
The Bengals really need the Hendrickson signing to play out. They were one of the worst at pressuring the passer last season, and they lost big names like Carlos Dunlap, Carl Lawson and Geno Atkins (who could return, but it seems unlikely at this point). They added Larry Ogunjobi and drafted Joseph Ossai, but essentially replacing Lawson with Hendrickson was not a popular move. If Hendrickson struggles to get in the quarterbacks face that will be a huge blow to this defense.
Hopefully the versatility to line these defensive linemen up in multiple locations will payoff, and we can finally see what this defense looks like when opposing quarterbacks don’t have all day to throw.