James Rapien

James Rapien

James Rapien came to talk sports and chew gum, and he's all out of gum.Full Bio


Defense may win championships, but the Bengals need help on offense

The Bengals weren't a good football team in 2016. If they're going to improve on their 6-9-1 record this year, then they're going to have to make some changes on offense. 

I'm not blind to the fact that an athletic linebacker or an upgrade at pass rusher would give the defense a huge boost. I expect the Bengals to try to upgrade at both spots, but I'm not sure they do it with the ninth pick. 

Almost every mock draft I see has them taking a defensive end in round one. That makes sense, but it doesn't mean the defense was the problem last season. The offense was the biggest reason they lost nine times in 2016. They averaged 15.5 points-per-game in their losses and didn't score over 20 points in any of those games. 

I thought the Bengals should've considered a change at offensive coordinator, but it doesn't seem like they're going to do that. Ken Zampese is going to need more toys to play with if the offense is going to regain its 2015 form. 

The worst thing the Bengals could do this offseason is blame injuries for their struggles on offense. Yes, Tyler Eifert, A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard all missed significant time last season. That doesn't mean they shouldn't look to upgrade at multiple positions on offense including running back and wide receiver. 

I've tossed around the idea of drafting a running back with the ninth pick. If they view Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook as game changing players, then why not select one of them in the first round? If Mike Williams from Clemson falls to them, why not get a dynamic wide receiver to pair with Green? 

I don't think the Bengals will go into the draft dead set on draft a specific position. They'd love to get a great pass rusher, but don't be shocked if they opt to add another playmaker on offense. 

Fournette, Cook and Williams are just three of the many players we're going to talk about in the upcoming months. The Bengals will have their choice of a bunch of great players. I hope they understand that the BIGGEST reason they underachieved in 2016 was because of their offense.

I discuss the Bengals' offseason strategy and more here

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