The Cincinnati Bengals defense was a major let down last season across the board. They lost their first round selection William Jackson III to a pectoral injury and overall underperformed. They ranked among the worst in opponents points per game and allowed too many yards through the air. They did not address the secondary until the sixth round in the draft but did add depth up front. Drafting both Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson at the defensive end position.
The defense overall needs to step up. The defensive front looks solid even more so after drafting the players stated above. However, with both Pat Sims and Michael Johnson on the other side of 30 now how much do they have in the tank? The Bengals will lean on these two heavily the two rookies how to go about business and mentor them, as well as seeing a ton of snaps.
The linebackers are solid and only look to get better. Vontaze Burfict will be able to play a full 16 games this year, barring any injury. He missed the first four weeks last season because of a suspension. He is the captain of that defense and obviously a leader in the locker room. If he can stay away from playing dirty, he could have a huge season. Kevin Minter and Rey Vincent will probably split snaps at the beginning of the season at least at the middle linebacker position until one of them solidifies the position.
Lastly the secondary. This will cause the Bengals to lose more games than they would like. Obviously, William Jackson has yet to touch the field, but it also does not help that both Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones have seemed to lose a step or two over the past couple seasons. Jones is now on the decline and Kirkpatrick is not far behind him. On top of that, the safeties leave a lot to be desired. With an aging secondary, I still question why John Ross at the ninth overall pick when there were bigger holes on the defense.
Overall, the defense will have its bright spots, but also weakness’. The front seven will be good; however, the backend will cause problems. Maybe the Cincinnati Bengals can find a way to make it all mesh but I would not expect it.
Editor’s Note: this article can also be seen in our upcoming NFL Preview Edition.