Many questions have been asked of the Cincinnati Bengals defense, a unit that has allowed 71 points, 44 in the second half, through two games this season.
Defensive coordinator answered the question earlier this week.
“It’s everything,” Zimmer said this week via Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Technique, discipline, effort, responsibilities, everything. It’s a big problem. We don’t pass rush, pass cover, stop the run, stop the pass. We don’t tackle and play with enough effort.”
If that sounds a lot like Bruce Coslet’s famous “We can’t run. We can’t pass. We can’t stop the run. We can’t stop the pass. We can’t kick. Other than that, we’re just not a very good football team right now” quote, it should. The feeling of despair is similar.
Five of the team’s top six tacklers thus far are defensive backs. Yes, special teams snaps can skew those numbers toward a guy like Jeromy Miles (10 total tackles) but that mark is unacceptable for any team, let alone one that prides itself on strong play in the trenches and linebackers swarming to the ball.
The front seven has been embarrassing for stretches this year, but not completely by its own accord. The rotation has been thinned out because of injuries to Carlos Dunlap, Pat Sims and now Jamaal Anderson and Thomas Howard.
That, combined with the lack of offensive snaps — more than half of Cincinnati’s second-half possessions have lasted four plays or fewer this season — is a recipe for disaster. It didn’t help that Cincinnati twice gave Baltimore short fields in the opener, either.
The defensive front should get a boost with the return of Carlos Dunlap, who has gone full tilt in Wednesday and Thursday practice and is on pace to make his season debut Sunday in Washington.
Additionally, I can’t imagine a Mike Zimmer-run unit performing this poorly for many more weeks. Last week’s performance was shocking coming on the heels of the season-opening disaster. With Zimmer pledging to start from the ground and work up, I look for significant improvement in the next couple weeks.
If not, we could be seeing some very different personnel taking significant snaps by the time the bye week rolls around.
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