Although its Week 1, every game is important, especially if you’re a first year head coach. Zac Taylor will need to get a goood start to 2019, but it won’t be easy. Going into Seattle, lets take a look at what players will be spotlighted.
Tyler Boyd | WR
Tyler Boyd will be Andy Dalton’s number target come Sunday up in Seattle. With UDFA Rookie Damion Willis starting in place of A.J. Green, and the wildcard John Ross as the other top 2 wideouts, it’ll be up to Boyd to continue the mantle of success, consistently, and reliability he and Green put forth last season. If Boyd can create open passing lanes and get Andy comfortable, the Bengals can be looking at a continued success of Quarterback play from the preseason.
Joe Mixon | RB
Getting a balanced offense going against a well coached and well led team in Seattle is vital to winning the game. If Joe is able to milk the clock away from a smart QB-Coach combo at home, this gives the defense rest and preparation, gives the Bengals the flow of the game, and sets up play action-which will be key for the offense in 2019. The ground game may be our best defense week 1, in a loud environment, limit mistakes in the air and don’t let Seattle have the ball long enough to get into a groove. If Mixon is able to set up the run, the Bengals can attempt to limt Bobby Wagner’s impact by sucking him in on the run and hitting a pass for a big gain. If the Bengals have a productive day on offense, Joe Mixon likely will too.
Carlos Dunlap | DE
The Bengals new offense will take the first couple of weeks to get their feet under them and really work out any kinks, meaning the defense will have to step up and keep them in games and limt some pretty dangerous offenses. Now the Seahawks offense doesn’t look that menacing on paper, but they can be deadly. Seattle was the number one rushing offense last year and going up against the Bengals last ranked defense and 29th ranked rush defense doesn’t bode well for Cincy. Despite getting some players back from injury and a few offseason additions to combat the rushing woes, you can’t expect a complete turnaround, especially in a hostile place week 1 in Seattle.
This is where Carlos Dunlap plays in to all of this. He will have a major role in the game. Not only does Dunlap need to contain Russell Wilson in the pocket and keep him from making plays outside the pocket, he will need to set the edge and force the runs back inside, especially since our best tackling corner, Darqueze Dennard wont suit up for the first six weeks. If not, things could get messy, quickly. Aside from his play on the field, Dunlap will also need to have a strong presence on the field. With a young and developing defense under first time defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo, Dunlap will need to be the leader up front and make clutch plays and hold everyone together, in the noisy Seattle crowd, making him possibly the most important player for the Bengals in week 1.
Russell Wilson | QB & Bobby Wagner | LB
If it weren’t for Russell Wilson’s and Bobby Wagner’s experience, leadership, and talent, Seattle would be one of the worst teams in the NFL. Those two, and outstanding coaching make their teammates around them better, and always keep their team in the game. Pure game changers, on both sides of the ball, at the two most important positions on each side. Wilson’s play-making ability gets him out of trouble in the back field and he’s able to extend plays. The Bengals defense better be well conditioned, and ready to compete athletically with Russell Wilson, on both the ground and through the air-as he is one of the best scramblers and deep ball throwers in the league.
On the other side of things, Bobby Wagner can wreck an offensive gameplan. He is a Linebacker that can do it all, cover the pass, defend the run, and move sideline to sideline.
You don’t need a Legion of Boom when you have a top two Linebacker manning the middle of the field. As long as he’s in Seattle’s front-7, they are to be feared, and Wagner is to be gameplanned for.
These players are crucial to their team success in 2019, especially in week 1. If they perform, theres a good chance they’ll be in position to pick up a ‘W’.