The Cincinnati Bengals are in for possibly the franchise’s greatest season of all-time. “Despite all of the talent on that side of the field, their success depends solely on one word, discipline,” said Dennis Clausen of RotoBaller.com. “Though the team is loaded with some very, very talented players, numerous penalties and “dirty” play has hindered the overall success of the team.”
What Clausen said is true, while the Bengals’ defense is stock-full of talent, discipline always was fatal to the success of the team. In Part One of this Bengals’ Outlook Series of articles, I discussed how rookie Joe Mixon will be an impressive factor in Cincinnati’s playoff run and I’ll talk about the rest of the offense in tomorrow’s third chapter of the series, but in this piece, I’ll discuss the positives of this defense’s possibilities.
Yes, Vontaze Burfict, Adam “Pac-Man” Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick have not shown the best character in their careers as Bengals. Burfict and Jones cost the Bengals’ their first playoff win in over two decades back in their 18-16 Wild Card loss to their rival Pittsburgh Steelers due to personal fouls (punching wide receiver Antonio Brown) in the 2015-16 season. Burfict and Kirkpatrick instigated fights with the New England Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski last year in their Week Six 35-17 loss.
Sounds dismal, right? You can’t forget about their undeniable skill, though: Burfict had 73 tackles, 28 tackle assists and had a 47 yard interception return, Jones had 54 tackles and 12 tackle assists and Kirkpatrick had 35 tackles, 11 tackle assists, three interceptions and a 21 yard interception return.
Both Burfict and Jones are suspended to start the season. Jones will only miss Week One, but Burfict will miss the first three games.
This does not sound like a good start for Jungle, but it may be a blessing in disguise. The team is without their two worst troublemakers for a short while, they do keep Kirkpatrick, one of their best defenders, and all three players now know that the league will no longer tolerate their misanthropic transgressions.
In terms of skill, the team also acquired linebacker Kevin Minter and defensive end Jordan Willis. Minter was with the Arizona Cardinals last year and Willis was drafted in the Third Round out of Kansas State back in April.
Minter was quiet in his first season, but has accumulated 171 tackles over his last three years (he’s only had a four-year career). Last year, Minter had 59 tackles, 22 tackle assists and 3.5 sacks.
Willis will be a rookie this year and his preseason looked promising: he had seven tackles, five tackle assists, four sacks and one forced fumble. At Kansas State, over four years he had 74 tackles, 39 tackle assists, 25.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries.
Despite the attitude, the Bengals’ mercurial defenders are learning their lesson. They also acquired the factors to complete their defense’s abilities apart from discipline. Read tomorrow for a preview of the Bengals’ ever-promising offense in “Cincinnati is in for history-Part Three.”