CINCINNATI — The Bengals are getting serious about getting after the quarterback.
Last year, the Bengals had 30 sacks in 17 regular season games and just six in three postseason games.
The selection of Myles Murphy should address not only production but depth on the edge for Lou Anarumo’s unit. Anarumo would rightly point out that his defense was very good at limiting opposing passing quarterbacks to a very low percentage. As a matter of fact, the Bengals held quarterbacks to an NFL-low 58.9 percent completion percentage with only Tom Brady passing for over 300 yards when the Bengals were already ahead 34-17.
But it’s the sack total and the production that they’re looking to boost.
“Anytime you’re not high numbers-wise — we look at the collective outcome to it,” Anarumo said. “You want to improve those numbers for sure, but as long as we continue to affect the quarterback and the quarterback rating, is something we do really well over the last couple years. If you’re getting more sacks, that going to present bigger opportunities for us on defense to create field position swings. We want to get better there and he can affect that.
“You’re going to apply pressure to the quarterback, and these great quarterbacks we have to play, if they’re back there in a clean pocket, they’re going to pick you apart no matter how well you’re covering it. To move them around, get them off their spot, to sack and pressure them and hit them, that’s the only way you really can affect these guys. He’s just another one along the lines. We’ve got some darn good ones already, as I mentioned, with Trey (Hendrickson), Sam (Hubbard), Joseph (Ossai) and that group. This guy will jump right in there.”
Myles Muphy admitted in his initial phone call with Cincinnati reporters that he models himself after another Myles, superstar edge Myles Garrett of the Browns.
“Similar body types, similar playing style, rushing style,” Murphy said. “I just mimic all of my game after him.”
What stood out to Anarumo about Murphy?
“I just think how consistent he was, to be honest,” Anarumo said. “You saw him through big games, whether it was maybe against a lesser opponent in college and he still came out and played with great effort and energy and was productive against the best teams that he played as well as maybe a lesser opponent, as I mentioned. You like to see that in guys, and he displayed that.
Former Top 5 national recruit who earned Freshman All-America honors from several outlets in 2020 and a fourth-team All-American selection from Phil Steele in 2021. Credited with 139 tackles (37.0 for loss), 17.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and six pass breakups in 1,543 snaps over 38 games (27 starts). Murphy joined Gaines Adams, Vic Beasley and Clelin Ferrell as the only Clemson players since 2000 to post multiple seasons with multiple forced fumbles and at least four sacks.
Here’s what to expect:
Bengals DC Lou Anarumo: “Oh, he’ll be in a rotation right away. We play a ton of D-linemen, so he’ll jump right in there and back up Sam (Hubbard) and Trey (Hendrickson) and, like I said, be in the mix with those guys. (He’ll) be in the third-down rush package and whatever (else) we come up with there. I’m looking forward to get him going right away.”
Anarumo: “(We) get a guy that brings position flex — he’s played both outside and inside (and) can rush from different spots. (With) the teams we have to play and when we have to play them, the more rushers we have on the field at one time, the better we’ll be. He’s the guy who will fit right in with that in that moment.”
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor: “We took Myles Murphy, (a) defensive end from Clemson. We’re excited about it. He’s a guy I’m sure everybody says (about their first round pick), he was a first rounder and we had a high grade on him, and we’re excited to get him,” but we truly mean that. You can never have enough defensive linemen. We feel like we got a really good one that’s going to add to the mix for us, really help complement the guys that we have and really make that a strong as a room as possible. So we’re really excited to get Myles in here.”
Zac Taylor: “Yeah. The guys (Tee Higgins, Jackson Carman) that we’ve had come out of Clemson all fit that description. They do a good job with the program down there first of all — finding the right guys to fit them and what they embody, with all the championships they’ve played for. Those guys have really fit in well with us as well, and so I think Myles is going to fit in with us perfectly.”
Zac Taylor: “It doesn’t hurt. He’s obviously well connected there, and he’s pretty jacked up about this (pick), too.”
With Trey Hendrickson set to be a free agent in 2025 (and with a cap number of $17.5 million in 2024), the Bengals know they have to have bodies ready to step in. With Joseph Ossai certainly ready to take that next step next year, Murphy, who is only 21, could prove invaluable to the Bengals finances if he could prove himself.
“I don’t know if that’s the reasoning for it,” Taylor said, downplaying any financial incentive with the pick. “We just felt like we had a great player there at a position that really impacts the other team’s quarterback. That’s really what drives the process there. We have a lot of great players on this team, and we want to add quality players that help us win championships right now.”
Other thoughts from Taylor and Anarumo and Murphy:
How did his pre-draft process kind of impact you guys? He was hurt and had to delay his pro day — how did that impact you?
Taylor: “We feel good about the tape that we had seen. He came in here on a visit, so we’ve met with him a couple times (and) felt really good about all the things that come with that. So again, (we’re) just excited that he was there at 28 for us.”
Were the Bengals worried after he tested well that he might not be there at 28?
Taylor: “Oh, yeah — this wasn’t a scenario we thought was going to play out for us, to be quite honest with you. Anything can happen, but in all of our discussions we had over the previous days, I didn’t think that Myles Murphy was going to be there at 28.”
Murphy is just 21 years old and was productive for multiple seasons at Clemson:
Taylor: “There’s still room to grow. I was a redshirt freshman in junior college when I was 21. I was the only guy in the dorms that could go to certain stores. To imagine a guy coming out, you know to go to the NFL at that age. I’m sure there’s still room to grow there, which is a great thing. But like you said, he’s played three effective years there at Clemson (and) done a great job for them academically and on the field. He seems very mature from our experiences with him. He’ll fit right in. But again, he’s still 21 years old and there’s still some development to be had, and that’s exciting”
Defensive Coordinator Lou Anarumo said he expects Murphy to come in and contribute immediately. At 21, Murphy believes he has the confidence to handle expectations.
“That’s been my expectation for the longest,” Murphy said. “Ever since high school, I’ve had a mission to come in and start, dominate every year that I was in college, and I still have the mission to come in and dominate every down. That’s always been my mission, that’s going to be my mission moving forward.”
Winning is in his blood:
“Coming from a winning organization and joining a winning organization that knows how to win, that knows the mentality that what it takes to win — that’s important,” Murphy said. “It’s great to join an organization like that…. (The Bengals) have all the pieces to be a consistent Super Bowl contender, AFC Championship contender. I just want to be that finishing piece, that piece that pushes them over and past that ledge of being a consistent Super Bowl contender to being a Super Bowl winner every year.”