Bengals D determined to start quicker in 2017


The goal of any team in any sport is to get better throughout the season, and the Cincinnati Bengals defense has mastered the art.

Over the last five seasons, the Bengals have allowed fewer yards in the second half of the season than they did in the first. And in four of the last five they’ve surrendered fewer points on the back end of the schedule.

And while that certainly will be something the team will strive to do again in 2017, the Bengals are hoping to avoid the large discrepancy that has existed in the past by getting off to a better start and not leaving so much room improvement.

›› RELATED: Two Bengals safeties leave practice with injuries

“I can’t really answer the question of why it’s happened that way,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said before pausing and offering a reason for a dramatic turnaround in 2016 in which the Bengals held opponents to 323 yards and 15.8 points per game over the final eight weeks, compared to 378.5 yards and 23.6 points in the first eight.

“Last year is hot on my mind because last year after the bye we came in and got a lot of things corrected,” Guenther said. “We met a lot more together and we played a lot better.”

Last week the bye came after Week 8, and served as a concrete divider between the first and second halves of the season. It wasn’t that way in years prior, but regardless of when the bye has come, the turnaround always seems to occur at midseason.

›› MORE: Photo gallery from Bengals training camp

Admittedly, offensive production tends to slow as the weather worsens. But that’s not enough to explain the drastic turnarounds the Bengals defense has recorded the last few years.

In 2015, the team allowed 368.6 ypg and 20.3 ppg in their its seven contests and 319.2 ypg and 15.2 ppg after.

In 2014, the yardage shrunk from 394.9 to 323.8 after Week 8, while the points dipped from 23.4 to 19.6.

The lone anomaly came in 2013 – Mike Zimmer’s final year as coordinator – when the defense allowed 18 ppg in the first eight and 20.1 in the second eight even though the yardage dropped from 322.5 to 288.5.

Like Jay Morrison on Facebook

And in 2012, the trend began with a massive improvement in both yardage (357.4 to 282) and points (27.3 to 12.8).

One of the things that could help the Bengals defense get off to a faster start in 2017 is faster players.

“I know we are a lot faster,” cornerback Adam Jones said. “If you look at the film from this OTAs and last OTAs, there’s a lot more speed on the field. And I’m not just talking about on the back end. I’m talking about up front, linebackers, everything. I think a lot of the guys know exactly where they’re supposed to be.

“I think we’ll be better (in 2017),” Jones added. “We had a lot of pieces that were just gluing to the puzzle midway through the season. I think we’ll be a lot better. We’ve got a lot of guys coming in that can rush. We’ve got a lot of guys coming in that can cover. We’ve got a couple of linebackers that through OTAs stuck out a lot. I think we’ll be better on defense.”

›› RELATED: Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard hoping for first healthy preseason

Defensive end Carlos Dunlap said the key to avoiding the type of slow start that leaves the door open for a dramatic turnaround is as simple as paying a little more attention to detail.

“One of the keys to us coming together last year is we had a meeting with Paully and really focused on the little things,” Dunlap said. “They’re little things, but they can be critical and they tend to get overlooked after you’ve been here for a few years. You feel like it’s just a natural thing that comes, but sometimes you have to focus in on it and refresh it.”

›› MORE: Observations from Day 3 of Bengals training camp

Among the team’s first five opponents this season, only Green Bay (eighth) ranked among the top 15 offenses in 2016. Baltimore was 17th, Houston 29th, Cleveland 30th and Buffalo 16th.

“Every year it’s a new bunch of guys, a new combination of guys in there, and every year is different,” Guenther said. “I don’t know what the answer is other than going out and playing the best we can starting in Week 1.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Anthony Davis wears jersey of injured teammate DeMarcus Cousins during NBA All-Star Game.
Anthony Davis wears jersey of injured teammate DeMarcus Cousins during NBA All-Star Game.

Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat. That motto was epitomized by former Kentucky forward Anthony Davis during the NBA All-Star Game Sunday night. Davis is wearing the jersey of New Orleans Pelicans’ teammate, and fellow former Wildcat, DeMarcus Cousins for the game. Cousins, of course, is out for the season after tearing...
Cincinnati Reds: 5 things to know Monday’s first full-squad workout
Cincinnati Reds: 5 things to know Monday’s first full-squad workout

It’s a crowded Sunday at the Reds complex in Goodyear, Arizona as position players reported for physicals ahead of Monday’s first full-squad workout. Here are 5 things to know as the Reds get back to work. In past years Bryan Price came to camp knowing who his opening day starter was going to be and the manager wasn’t afraid to make...
Wright State’s Benzinger to hit Nutter Center floor one last time
Wright State’s Benzinger to hit Nutter Center floor one last time

The courtside seating at the Nutter Center is about to get a lot safer, but first Grant Benzinger has one more game to play there when the Raiders take on Cleveland State for Senior Night on Monday. Known for his hustle and blatant disregard for his body as much as his sharp shooting, Benzinger has dropped more than just sweat on the home hardwood...
Mississippi State women’s basketball wins first SEC title in program history
Mississippi State women’s basketball wins first SEC title in program history

Mississippi State women’s basketball continues to make history. The Bulldogs moved to 28-0 on the season Sunday night, and clinched their first-ever SEC title in the process. They got it done thanks to a 76-55 win over Texas A&M. Mississippi State’s regular season is now over, and the Bulldogs will now look toward the SEC...
Archdeacon: ‘Level-headed’ Landers relishing role with Flyers
Archdeacon: ‘Level-headed’ Landers relishing role with Flyers

“I level-headed myself.” That’s Trey Landers simple, but linguistically-styled explanation for how he got himself from being buried on the bench last year to becoming a driving force for the Dayton Flyers this season, especially Saturday night when he scored 15 points in the first 11 minutes of the game and finished with a career-high...
More Stories