If the two can show drastic improvement, the Bengals defense could turn heads in 2021.
Giving up over 25 points per game last season, the Cincinnati Bengals ranked in the bottom half of the league in opponent’s scoring. Fixing their defense was set to be a top priority for them this offseason.
While health was a major factor for the team last season, they went ahead and added a few new faces, hopefully strengthening their roster. One notable addition was Chidobe Awuzie, and the former Cowboys has been a standout in camp.
With the defense looking impressive early, cornerback Awuzie has one goal on his mind, and that’s earning the respect of his teammates, which he’s certainly already started to do with his performances in camp.
“It’s definitely my goal to earn respect from them, so I guess you’d have to ask them for that. I’m just trying to do my best every day, learn from the guys and keep things lively,” Awuzie said via The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr.
On top of Awuzie’s terrific play, the Bengals are getting more from Logan Wilson. Wilson is a linebacker and will be entering his second season in the league after being a third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Given that Cincinnati ranked in the bottom five in opponent’s rushing yards last season, Wilson being a more involved factor should only help their linebacking corps. However, the high praise should be even more reassuring for fans.
“He’s hitting the gaps in the run game noticeably faster this year. He has been given the green dot for coach communication, and that confidence in him physically and mentally is spilling over to his playing style. He came in with the reputation as a skilled cover ‘backer and that still remains, but his lines of attack and anticipation in the run game has shown up through 10 practices,” Dehner Jr. wrote.
Considering the team lost Josh Bynes this offseason, Wilson not only stepping into a leadership role but also looking noticeable better is huge. He played in just 12 games last season and had little defensive impact. He ended the season with 33 combined tackles.
The combination of the dynamic safety duo, Larry Ogunjobi and D.J. Reader’s health, and the improvement of both Wilson and Awuzie could give the Bengals a dominant defense, something they haven’t had for years.
Camp is setting big expectations for the defense, so we’ll see how they look in their first preseason action in coming Saturday.