The Bengals have gone to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, but they haven’t won a game in the postseason on any of those trips.
The majority of the blame for those losses has fallen on the shoulders of the offense, with quarterback Andy Dalton carrying enough of it to lead some to question if he’s the right man to run the offense for the long term. The defense has not come under nearly the same amount of fire and has been one of the league’s stronger units for the last few years, but defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is sending them the message that it is “not OK what we did last year.”
“It’s more so the veteran players that have been here and been through the last three years and the playoffs saying, ‘Hey, we need to step it up. We need to take ownership of what we’re doing here, too,’” Guenther said, via the team’s website. “We didn’t play well enough against San Diego to beat them. There are no excuses about that. We didn’t play good enough on defense.”
Guenther pointed to the way the Seahawks played in the Super Bowl as an example of what he wants to see from the Bengals defenders, particularly the way they played like they weren’t going to be denied in their matchup against the Broncos. Guenther has shown the first 22 plays of that game to his players to illustrate exactly what he means and he might be able to get it with a healthy return from Geno Atkins and the arrival of first-round corner Darqueze Dennard.
That won’t make things any easier on Dalton and the offense all by itself, but it could be enough for the Bengals to find their way past a playoff opponent if new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s changes have the desired effect.