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Mike Hilton bringing accountability to Bengals’ defense

Hilton’s methodologies are getting support from Jessie Bates.

Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Fixing the Bengals’ defense has become no easy task in recent years. Watching the last few seasons has made it hard to remember when the team could rely on that side of the ball back when Mike Zimmer was pulling the strings.

The front office has added much talent over the last two offseason periods to improve the unit, but communication and accountability are attributes that aren’t so easily bought. Luckily, Mike Hilton appears to be an exception.

Per his new teammate, Jessie Bates III, Hilton has introduced the project of more intimately tracking the defense’s shortcomings during practice.

“We’re tracking missed assignments, bad techniques and loafs,” Bates told Bengals.com editor Geoff Hobson. “We’ve got a nice little pot going already. That’s something that we didn’t do years before. I think we’re going to switch on and off, who evaluates who has the most loafs and stuff like that. And we’ll put a chart together, put a put a little bucket of money together, and hopefully, whoever has the most interceptions gets the pot.”

Hilton knows what goes into building and sustaining a solid defense. He spent the first five seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

This attention to detail and level of accountability is refreshing to hear. No player wants to consistently be the one who isn’t going all-out and costing the unit. And thanks to defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, we know that a loaf is someone who isn’t going 100% on a play.

Cincinnati needed new leaders on defense. Hilton, who’s signed through the 2024 season, looks to already be going down that path.