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Better, worse or same: Bengals secondary

This unit was a mixed bag in the regular season but stepped up big when it mattered most.

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NFL: AFC Championship-Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals’ secondary was a mixed bag last season, and that’s putting it lightly.

One week, they’d be shutting down a top-10 passing offense like the Raiders.

Another, they were getting torn apart by Mike White and a Jets team among the NFL’s worst in 2021.

Thankfully, they played well when it mattered most. After allowing 26 passing scores vs. 13 picks in the regular season, they allowed eight scores while grabbing eight picks in the postseason. They held Derek Carr (69.2 passer rating), Ryan Tannehill (66.7), Patrick Mahomes (91.3) and Matthew Stafford (89.9) all below their regular-season passer ratings while putting the Bengals in great position to win the Super Bowl.

Alas, they came up short but still made it a point to upgrade the secondary through the NFL Draft. That included first-round safety Dax Hill, second-round cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt, and fifth-round safety Tycen Anderson.

They also bring back every starter from last season, highlighted Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell at safety, while Chidobe Awuzie played at a Pro Bowl-level at boundary corner, and Mike Hilton was one of the league’s best slot corners. Those are four quality veterans who should continue to play at a high level.

The real question is that second boundary corner spot, where the enigmatic Eli Apple is currently penciled in as the starter. Will Cam Taylor-Britt be able to push Apple out and give Cincinnati an upgrade there? Could Dax Hill play there some and make a positive impact?

My guess is Apple will continue to start but see his playing time decrease from 93% of the defensive snaps he got in 2021. The key will be if one of the rookies, or even backup vet Tre Flowers, can step up and give Cincinnati more quality snaps at this position.

So, what say you? Will the Bengals secondary be the same, worse or better in 2022? Let us know in the poll and in the comments section!

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