Every year, it seems like there is an aspect of Cincinnati Bengals football that is underestimated and doesn’t receive enough credit.
This year, it is their defense. This squad, under arguably the best defensive coordinator in the league, has an unlimited amount of disguises for opposing offenses which should allow this defense to create turnovers or stall drives.
The Bengals had the third-most interceptions in the league in the 2022 season with 16, only behind the 49ers and Bears.
Cincinnati is entering this season as the 10th-best defense in the league, per Pro Football Focus, after losing both Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell.
They will be replacing those two while adding some new talent. The Bengals added players like veteran safety Nick Scott from the Rams, first-round pick Myles Murphy from Clemson, and promising defensive backs DJ Turner and Jordan Battle.
Last year, USA Today Sports said Cincinnati had two of the most underrated defensive players in the NFL, defensive end Trey Hendrickson and linebacker Logan Wilson. Hendrickson has quick speed on the edge and a scary swim move, despite him not fully showing those skills last season and also fighting through an injury. During the Bengals’ Super Bowl run, Wilson led NFL linebackers with five picks.
PFF ranks Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton in the top-32 defensive backs entering this season as well. Most people might think Cam Taylor-Britt should be on the list, but he has a new season to prove just that, along with the team’s new rookie defensive backs.
During last season, the Bengals' defense had a few tough injuries and needed several guys to step up and make some plays. They came through. This offseason, they hope some of these new players can settle into starting spots and polish their skills.
In training camp thus far, second-round rookie DJ Turner has been one of the biggest camp standouts. That’s also true of Taylor-Britt, who has done well as a starter in camp, despite being frequently matched up with guys like Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase.
If they keep this up, Turner and Taylor-Britt could help make up a fantastic quartet that includes standouts Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton, all while playing behind what should be one of the NFL’s best front-sevens this year.
The Bengals have proved during the last two seasons why you shouldn’t sleep on any part of their game, and this might be the biggest year to keep your eyes peeled. Don’t be shocked if both the offense and defense end up in the top-five power rankings this year.