Defensive notes and players to watch
Believe it or not, given that Lewis’ pedigree was that of a defensive coach, the Bengals’ defense was pretty comparable to the Chiefs’ defense last season. In fact, we experienced it personally as fans during the 45-10 drubbing that the Chiefs gave the Bengals last season. This was only the beginning of nearly a season long list of woes for their team.
Like the Chiefs, the Bengals’ defense ranked near the bottom of the league against both the run and the pass. Specifically, according to ESPN, they ranked 32nd against the pass and 27th against the run. In case you were keeping track, they were worse in both categories than the Chiefs.
Also like the Chiefs, there will be a completely new coaching staff on that side of the ball for Cincyl. With new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo at the helm, it appears that the Bengals will continue to run the 4-3 scheme that the team has run for the last several years. The specific differences in how that scheme will look are tough to say until the team hits the field.
Anarumo has little experience as a coordinator at the professional level. What’s more, in his brief stint as the interim defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins in 2015, the defense finished 25th overall. This isn’t great, but it’d still be an improvement over last season for the Bengals. I’d expect their to be some growing pains early on this side of the ball.
The players that seem to be getting the most hype are along the defensive line. Obviously, this line has talent. For most of the decade, they were able to post strong numbers finishing far better than they did in 2018. Geno Atkins is still a Pro Bowl caliber player along the defensive line amassing 10 sacks just last season and Carlos Dunlap looks to continue to build on his impressive career at defensive end.
Yet, the players most intriguing in the preseason are the backups. Defensive end and 2018 third round draft pick Sam Hubbard looks to make waves this season following up his rookie campaign where he posted an impressive six sacks and seven tackles for loss. It’s possible by the end of the preseason he’s a starter, so look for some flashes this preseason.
Similarly, defensive end and 2017 fourth round pick Carl Lawson has shown promise, posting 8.5 sacks his rookie year before having a down year last season. Reports out of Bengals’ camp are that he’s been dominant on a day-in, day-out basis. Either way you look at it, the Bengals defensive line has some intriguing talent.
With several players along the offensive line for the Chiefs being relatively green or coming back from injury, I could see the starters getting a higher number of reps than usual. This defensive line should be a good warmup for the unit to begin the season.
Other Defensive Players of Note: