The preseason is in full swing. It’s been a busy few months for all 32 NFL franchises. How does each defense rank from the very bottom to the top?
They call it equal time. Last month, there was the power ranking of all 32 NFL teams in regards to their offensive units. The New Orleans Saints claimed the top spot, with the Miami Dolphins bringing up the rear.
Now it’s time to look at the other side of the ball. And for those who feel that defense is a lost art in the league, the New England Patriots managed a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams six months ago in the lowest-scoring tilt in Super Bowl history.
What about 2019? Every clubs made some alterations this spring and summer – some more than others. There was another slew of defensive coordinator changes this offseason. As far as the rankings, the focus is on units that can stop the run, make an offense one-dimensional, harass the quarterback and force the opposition into costly mistakes.
There you have it. So when it’s all said and done, how do all of these clubs stack up when it comes to slowing down the other team’s attack?
32. Cincinnati Bengals
2018 Review: The team’s recent issues on this side of the ball really came to a head in 2018. The club had its issues at linebacker and it’s interesting to note that the team’s top two tacklers were safeties Jessie Bates and Shawn Williams, not necessarily a good sign. All told, no team in the league gave up work total yards per game and more passing yards per outing than the Bengals. Seven-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins (10) and veteran end Carlos Dunlap (8) combined for more than half of Cincinnati’s 34 sacks. The team managed only 18 takeaways.
2019 Key Additions: There’s a new coordinator in Lou Anarumo, an assistant with the Dolphins from 2012-17 before joining the Dolphins this past season. In terms of veteran additions, the Bengals added defensive lineman Kerry Wynn and cornerback B.W. Webb. Via the draft, the club used a third-round pick on linebacker Germaine Pratt (North Carolina State) and added another young defensive tackle in Renell Wren (4b-Arizona State).
Analysis: Cincinnati has its share of talent up front but linebacker has been an issue for a few seasons. The departure of Vontaze Burfict doesn’t help but a healthy Preston Brown would help. He missed nine games in 2018. The Bengals need to get more out of the numerous young defensive linemen they have drafted in recent years. Unfortunately, it could be another long year for this unit if the front-seven doesn’t make more of an impact.