The Cincinnati Bengals offense may get the attention, but it was the defense that really stepped up in the postseason. They held opponents to just 20.5 points per game in four playoff games, including a mere 7.3 points in the second half/overtime.
The biggest reason for Cincinnati’s defensive resurgence after being a bottom-10 unit in 2020 was how much the defensive line improved, specifically the pass rush.
After finishing with a league-low 17 sacks in 2020, the Bengals made several major additions along the defensive line, including Trey Hendrickson, who had a career-high 14 sacks and proved to be one of the best free agent signings any team made in the 2021 offseason.
At defensive tackle, the Bengals also added Larry Ogunjobi and B.J. Hill, who combined for 12.5 sacks. And D.J. Reader was able to play the whole season after being limited to just five games in 2020 due to injury.
All of this made for one of the NFL’s best defensive lines of 2021, and it should be strong once more in 2022.
However, the Bengals did lose Ogunjobi in free agency, so the Bengals must find a way to replace his production. Part of that figures to come with Hill, who typically played less than half of the defensive snaps until Ogunjobi was lost in the playoffs due to injury.
Another player who could help replace Ogunjobi is third-round pick Zach Carter, though his college career didn’t exactly scream of a guy ready to make a big impact as a rookie.
At defensive end, Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard should once again be a strong duo on the edge, while Cam Sample and Joseph Ossai have the potential to make a big impact this year.
Overall, the defensive line should be strong again, but will it be better than last year? Let us know how you see the d-line performing through the poll below and in the comments section!