If Thursday’s game was any indication, the Bengals defense is getting back to form. Outside of blown coverage for a Kenny Stills score, the D looked good.
If Thursday’s game was any indication, the Bengals defense is returning to form. Outside of the blown coverage that ended with Kenny Stills redeeming himself and catching a deep touchdown, the Bengals defense looked as good as it’s ever been. Perhaps it was the return of Vontaze Burfict or even the fact that it was Miami’s offense, but the Bengals defense came ready to play. There’s no denying that Burfict is the heart and soul of the Cincinnati defense. The way the defense played so inspired during the Dolphins game wasn’t just because Cincinnati needed to win, it was because their captain that doesn’t wear the C was back. When Vontaze is on the field, the Cincy D looks better in every way.
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The starting linebacker trio of Burfict, Rey Maualuga and Karlos Dansby is really a force to reckon with. Each linebacker had at least one play on Thursday where their talent alone showed up big. For instance, on a 1st-and-10 at the beginning of the second quarter, Burfict was matched up one-on-one with Jarvis Landry. While Landry is an exceptional receiver and route runner, Burfict made an exceptional play by jumping in front of Landry and knocking the ball down.
On a 2nd-and-4 early in the third quarter, Maualuga showed why he’s one of the best run-stuffing linebackers in the league. As Isaiah Pead gets the handoff right from Ryan Tannehill, Maualuga sees it and shoots the gap. Before Pead had a chance, Maualuga met him three yards in the backfield. While Maualuga didn’t make the tackle he forced a tackle in the backfield. As for Dansby, his experience held true. When Tannehill approached the line late in the game to call an audible, Dansby crept up to the line as well. Whether he sniffed out the play or it was just instinct, Dansby reacted to the snap as if he was the running back. Tannehill raised the ball to fake a pass but later lowered it for a planned running back draw. The draw went for no game only because Dansby came up and made a great one on one tackle.
The trio performed well and it’s only going to get better. The same can be said for the defensive line. Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins applied pressure the entire game, but it wasn’t just those two who led to five sacks and two batted down passes. Will Clarke and Margus Hunt were unbelievable as well. The defensive line showed up big when Cincinnati needed them the most and the Bengals need them to continue their dominance throughout the rest of the season.
Lastly, the secondary had a very good game as well. Even without Dre Kirkpatrick and their one blown play, the Bengals look to be in good hands with their lineup. Unfortunately, Cincinnati’s secondary is not the same caliber of the Zimmer era or even just from last year. Darqueze Dennard looked solid in replacing Kirkpatrick. However, Josh Shaw looks like the future of that position. Shaw has been impressing throughout the entire season so far and could help Cincinnati big time late in the season. The Orange and Black is getting back to Cincinnati defense. But, let’s see what happens next week in Dallas.