Cincinnati Bengals Reject Claims to Still be Elite at his Position in Tough 2024 Offseason

The Former Bengals Star Claims He Can Still Be Dominant in 2024
Feb. 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals nose tackle D.J. Reader (98) celebrates a sack of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) (not pictured) in the third quarter during Super Bowl 56. Mnadatory Credit: Browns Wire-USA TODAY Sports
While the Cincinnati Bengals are without a doubt a primarily offensive team with superstar talent like Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow, the defense has managed to play adequately up until last season.  Last season, the rushing defense specifically dropped from being top 10 in the league to bottom 10 as the defense both gave up far too easy rushing lanes.  On top of that, this group couldn’t manage to make a single tackle last season and there are a few contributing reasons.

Former Cincinnati Bengals Defensive Tackle Still Surges in Confidence

Cincinnati BengalsCincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws during warm-ups before the first quarter of an NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland.

Even throughout the misery of the defensive front last season, nose tackle D.J. Reader played spectacularly as the enormous nose tackle didn’t miss a beat.  Even though he missed three games in 2023, Reader finished the season with a Pro Football Focus (PFF) overall grade of 82.2 which is good enough for 11th in the NFL.

Detroit Lions, DJ ReaderCincinnati Bengals defensive tackle DJ Reader (98) and defensive end Cam Sample (96) react to a missed field goal from Jacksonville Jaguars punter Logan Cooke (9) during the fourth quarter

Unfortunately for Reader, the team was completely incapable of stopping the run, and even with a solid run defense grade of 75.3, the team thought that he was too much of a risk after the 335-pound Clemson Product tore his quad late last season.  With a lower-body injury and just passing 30 years old going into the 2024 season, it would certainly be precedented for Reader to show a significant decline in play.

 

Cincinnati BengalsD.J. Reader became a force in the middle for Cincinnati after he was signed by the team in 2020.

While the team didn’t have enough faith to reward one of their best players over the past few seasons with a big contract, he recently spoke up in an interview on The Jim Rome Show on Monday with the intention that he has no inclination of slowing down.  

“I don’t see any setbacks keeping me from being able to be right back where I was and the player who I was,” he said. “When I’m out there playing, I’m one of the top three players at my position. So I don’t think that’s gonna change. Once I get back and this knee’s back, I think it’ll be like you (Jim Rome) said, another setup for greatness to go out there and do this thing.”

Reader’s strong opinion of his play was backed up recently when he was signed to a two-year contract worth $22 million this offseason with the Detroit Lions.  An $11 million per season average is definitely an indication that the team believes that Reader’s play will only improve heading into 2024.

Cincinnati BengalsCincinnati Bengals defensive tackle D.J. Reader (98) was taken off the field after an injury to his right knee during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Paycor Stadium on Saturday, December 16, 2023.

Reader will pair with outstanding 2021 third-round pick Alim McNeil on a Detroit defensive line that will certainly be ranked amongst the best in the entire league.  With McNeil (ranked 7th overall by PFF with an overall grade of 86.8) at the 3-technique and Reader as the nose tackle, Detroit will certainly be stacked on the defensive interior with Pro Bowler Aidan Hutchinson and former Vikings pass-rush specialist Marcus Davenport filling in on the ends of the line.

Detroit Lions, Alim McNeillLions coach Dan Campbell talks to defensive tackle Alim McNeill during warmups before the game against the Raiders on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, at Ford Field.

Lions Head Coach Dan Campbell has focused on building a gritty team and with what will certainly be the most physical defensive line in the league, he appears to have succeeded big time on that front.  Cincinnati, unfortunately, has failed to replace their 335-pound nose tackle with a suitable replacement and will likely go into the 2024 season even worse against the rushing attack than they were this season.

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