2018 Season: Q&A with Bengals General Manager
Thoughts on the outcome of last season?
Considering we made it to the Super Bowl to face the Green Bay Packers, I believe it was a huge success. Of course winning the Super Bowl and not losing to Green Bay, would have been the icing on the cake.
Our season looked dim when And Dalton got injured in Week 8. Our backup, A.J. McCarron was pressed into service unexpectedly and did the best he could under pressure, but in the four weeks he filled in, the team went on a three-game losing streak and fell behind Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
After Andy came back, the team got back on track and we ran the table for the rest of the season. We had to wait and see what Pittsburgh and Baltimore would do and fortunately for us, both of them struggled in the late weeks. That gave us an open door to make the playoffs, but we got more than just a postseason berth, we won the division.
But, despite our successes, we saw weakness in stopping the pass. Our pass defense finsihed near the bottom of the league. Thankfully our rush defense was steller! We were ranked number one in stopping the run. That helped balance out our defense and with a great offense, we had what it took to go as far as we did.
What was your number one priority entering the offseason?
Our number one priority in the offseason was to improve our secondary. We decided that the best way was through free agency and we would focus on walking away from the free agency stage with an upgrade at Strong Safety.
What was your biggest move in the offseason?
We inked SS T.J. Ward to a 3-year, $16.8M contract. We think he’s a good fit and can help us to be more effective against the pass.
What were your expectations entering the Draft?
Last season, we gave away a fan favorite (MLB Rey Maualuga) to the Broncos in order to move up in the draft to #2. We were 100% focused on acquiring a top receiver and got that in Javonte Gordon from Oklahoma. This year’s draft, we made some calls but no one wanted to deal. So, we stayed low in draft order and landed free safety Rashaun Cole. Cole is an upgrade and we believe he will develop into a great player.
What will determine the success of the next season?
Are there any priorities during the upcoming regular season?
Left end Carlos Dunlap, our highest rated player, is up for a contract extension. We’ll start talks with him and see where they go. We also have the option of using the Franchise Tag for the first time in a while to keep him with the team.