Sports

NFL preview: The Cincinnati Bengals

Breaking down the three biggest storylines heading into 2019

After a disappointing 6-10 season, the Cincinnati Bengals look to bounce back with new head coach Zac Taylor and a rejuvenated offense.

Here are the biggest storylines to expect for the Bengals’ 2019 season.

Can Andy Dalton be the QB of the future?

With a 21:11 touchdown to interception ratio in 2018, Andy Dalton looks to have a more productive season under Taylor’s new offense.

Taylor’s offense will have a plethora of shifts and motions to offer enough firepower to do some damage. However, Dalton has always struggled when pressure arises, especially blitz packages.

Can Dalton be better under the pressure this season? Personally, I think Dalton will have a better season, but is it enough to keep him around?

If the Bengals decide to let Dalton go, they only lose about $2.4 million. Dalton may need to have a career year to keep his starting job in the Queen City.

Joe Mixon will rush for 1,200 yards

Mixon is heading into his third season in the NFL and is poised to continue his stellar production after having 1,168 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Like Dalton, Mixon is in Taylor’s new offense, which is reliant on the run.

Taylor made this a priority in this year’s draft, as the Bengals selected left tackle Jonah Williams from Alabama and tight end Drew Sample from Washington, who is known for his run blocking.

However, Williams is facing a season-ending labrum injury, and with an already depleted line, he is the biggest loss so far for the Bengals.

Even with a poor offensive line, I still think Mixon has a great season and will continue to have even more successful seasons if the Bengals O-line can improve.

Defense will be the Bengals’ Achilles’ Heel

First-year defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo faces many challenges in Cincinnati. An inexperienced and inconsistent secondary and linebacker core and an injury-riddled defensive line are just some of the issues this Cincinnati team suffered last year.

The Bengals do have some productive players returning, such as two-time first team All-Pro Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Jessie Bates and Preston Brown. That said, too many question marks remain with this team. For example, who will replace Vontaze Burfict in the middle? Burfict had some off the field and injury problems the past few seasons but was a great leader and productive when healthy.

Who will step up at the cornerback position? Darqueze Dennard, William Jackson, and BW Webb lead the pack, but there is still a huge gap in terms of consistency and being able to guard star receivers.

I do think this defense will have its moments of success this season, but problems may arise because of injury, inconsistencies and having to face star-studded offenses throughout the division, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns.

Season wrap-up

I think this team will have its moments, but it simply needs more talent. Getting back to winning football is a long process, and Cincinnati will need to draft well, acquire effective free agents and bring back the winning culture.

This may be a down year for Cincinnati, and wins may be hard to come by.

I think the Bengals win five games this season under first-year head coach Zac Taylor. They’ll have some bright spots but also some glaring holes that need to be addressed.

By Jake Geiger | Guest Writer

Photo courtesy of NFL.com

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