Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Oct 2005

Every Play Counts: Cincinnati’s Defensive Line

by Michael David Smith

The Bengals aren't back. Cincinnati lost its biggest game since 1990, and while it would be inaccurate to label these the same old Bengals, the defensive line looks like something out of the David Shula era. Cincinnati is a better team right now than it was at any time in the decade before Marvin Lewis arrived. But Cincinnati hired Lewis for his ability to build a defense, and Sunday's 27-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers shows that Cincinnati still has a lot of work to do on its defensive line before it can join the NFL elite.

Pittsburgh running backs Willie Parker, Jerome Bettis and Verron Haynes gashed Cincinnati for 220 yards on 42 carries, which led me to scrutinize the Bengals' line on every play as I watched the tape of Sunday's game to determine what, specifically, the problem is. Seven players logged time at defensive line for Cincinnati, and they're listed below in order of how well they played against the Steelers.

1. Duane Clemons, end

I liked how Clemons stayed at home against the run early in the game. Unlike his fellow Bengals ends, he didn't get sucked inside, which meant that on a first-and-10 run when Jerome Bettis took a handoff, couldn't find a hole, and tried to bounce outside, Clemons was there to stop him for two yards. But by the fourth quarter, Clemons looked like he was trying too hard to make a big play, and when Parker ran for 20 yards, he first ran to the left, then cut back to the right, past Clemons, who had overpursued and couldn't keep up with him.

Clemons is Cincinnati's best pass rusher. He sacked Ben Roethlisberger in the second quarter, but it was the result of a blown blocking scheme by the Steelers and not anything special that Clemons did. Tight end Heath Miller lined up behind and just to the outside of tackle Marvel Smith, then motioned to the right. Smith obviously didn't realize that Miller had gone in motion because he looked to block to the inside and allowed Clemons to go unblocked to the outside. Clemons didn't do anything special on the play; he just happened to be there when the Steelers screwed up.

He needs to do a better job of reading and reacting on running plays. On a second-and-3, he lined up at left end and no one blocked him, but he just kind of got caught in traffic. He hesitated before crossing the line of scrimmage, and by the time he got into Pittsburgh's backfield, Willie Parker got past him for three yards and a first down. On the very next play, fullback Dan Kreider provided the lead block on Clemons as Parker ran to the right side for a 37-yard touchdown.

On most teams, Clemons, who was suspended for the first four games of this season, would be a situational pass-rusher. In Cincinnati, he should be on the field for every play.

2. David Pollack, end

Pollack, a rookie from Georgia, is listed as a linebacker, but he also logged a good deal of playing time at end in a three-point stance. At 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds, Pollack is small for a lineman, but end was his college position and I think it's where he fits best.

Pollack did a fair job against Marvel Smith, shedding Smith's block and tackling Parker for a gain of a yard on second-and-6 in the first quarter. The big problem with Pollack is that at times he reacts too quickly. On a second-and-4, Pittsburgh faked a handoff up the middle, and Pollack bit on the fake. A defensive end can never let anyone get outside him, but Pollack crashed the inside, and when Hines Ward came on an end around, Pollack was beaten. Fortunately for Pollack, cornerback Tory James was ready for the play and stopped Ward for a four-yard gain.

I liked Pollack's his speed. Lined up at right defensive end, Pollack failed to keep outside contain when the Steelers ran a reverse with Verron Haynes taking the ball and running right, then handing off to Cedrick Wilson who ran around the left end. Pollack should have been there to stop Wilson, but he kept up with Wilson and forced him out of bounds after a 14-yard gain. Defensive ends aren't supposed to be able to stay stride for stride with wide receivers, but Pollack did. (The play was called back on a holding penalty.)

I didn't much care for Pollack when he played linebacker. He had a lot more trouble with fullback Dan Kreider than he did with Smith and didn't understand how a linebacker needs to fill a hole when a fullback comes at him. Cincinnati should switch Pollack to end full time.

3. Carl Powell, end/tackle

Powell didn't really stand out with many good plays or many bad plays. And sometimes his good plays and his bad plays were the same play: On a second-and-7 in the second quarter, Powell lined up at tackle and did a beautiful job of knifing in between center Jeff Hartings and right guard Kendall Simmons. He had a perfect chance to nail Bettis behind the line of scrimmage, but he just missed him. He seemed to think Bettis was the kind of running back he could knock down with a quick shove on the shoulders. Bettis picked up 10 yards.

Powell could certainly stand to work on his tackling, but overall he's not a bad athlete. He'd probably be better off playing end than tackle, but tackle is where Cincinnati most desperately needs help.

4. Justin Smith, end

Smith was known as a pass-rushing specialist when Cincinnati drafted him out of Missouri five years ago, and he doesn't look like he's learned much about stopping the run in the last five years. Pittsburgh rookie tight end Heath Miller embarrassed Smith on a Bettis run. Miller had a one-on-one block against Smith and knocked him off the ball, allowing Bettis to slip through the line right behind him. Defensive ends just aren't supposed to lose battles like that against tight ends, especially not rookie tight ends who were drafted primarily for their receiving skills. Smith was even more brutal against the run when Pittsburgh right tackle Max Starks blocked him. Starks had no trouble with him at all as Parker gained eight yards running right in front of Smith on a first-and-10 in the second quarter.

Smith did once bring Bettis down for no gain, and he deserves credit for the quick first step to the inside that allowed him to get past Starks on that play. But that was on a second-and-8 when he shot the gap, looking like he was planning a pass rush and happened to rush right where Bettis was getting a handoff.

On another second-and-8, Smith again met Bettis at the line of scrimmage, but this time Bettis dragged Smith for five yards before Smith finally brought him down.

Smith looked decent rushing Roethlisberger. Smith never actually brought Roethlisberger down, but in obvious passing situations he got close a couple of times. His best play came on a second-and-20 in the second quarter when he beat Starks to the inside and forced Roethlisberger to roll outside and hurry an incompletion.

5. Bryan Robinson, tackle

Pittsburgh guard Kendall Simmons repeatedly stood Robinson up at the line of scrimmage. Even when Robinson made tackles, it was usually a few yards downfield, like a first-and-10 late in the first quarter, when Robinson got off Simmons' block and tackled Parker, but not until Willie Parker managed a four-yard gain. Robinson seemed to specialize in tackling Parker too late; he also brought Parker down after a three-yard run on second-and-3.

Robinson did have a nice pass rush, employing an outside-inside move that allowed him to get past Simmons and force Roethlisberger out of the pocket on an incomplete pass. Robinson was the only 300-pounder who suited up for the Bengals on Sunday, but he still looks small out there -- smaller now than he looked a few years ago in Chicago.

6. John Thornton, tackle

Thornton has always been known more for his quickness than his ability to clog running lanes, and he set the tone for the Bengals defensive line on Pittsburgh's first offensive play. Parker took a handoff and ran behind left guard Alan Faneca, who simply overpowered Thornton, shoving him five yards off the line of scrimmage. Pittsburgh's play was the kind of up-the-middle run that's designed to pick up four yards if the offense does everything right. Parker gained seven.

It wasn't just Faneca who pushed Thornton around. On another first-and-10 in the first quarter, Thornton lined up at nose tackle and center Jeff Hartings drove him straight back. Parker gained six yards on the play. Thornton did have one play when he held his ground against Kendall Simmons, forcing Bettis to run into Simmons and go down after only two yards on first-and-10. But at 297 pounds, Thornton just doesn't look big or strong enough for the types of plays where he needs to hold his position at the point of attack.

7. Robert Geathers, end

Geathers usually plays right end, the position that is allegedly reserved for a team's best pass rusher, but he didn't impress at all. On a 20-yard Roethlisberger-to-Miller pass, Geathers lined up to the outside in a sprinter's stance, obviously ready to give an all-out rush. He never got close. Steelers left tackle Marvel Smith shut him out entirely and Roethlisberger didn't feel any pressure at all on the play.

On the Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Miller, Geathers completely bit on a play-fake. If he had realized Roethlisberger still had the ball he could have sacked him or at the very least forced a hurried pass. But he thought Roethlisberger had handed off up the middle and was left looking around for the ball as Miller scored.

And he was even worse against the run, taking some very bad pursuit angles: Smith shoved him inside on a Bettis gain of 10. Later, on a Bettis run on first-and-goal from the seven-yard line, Geathers lined up at left end and couldn't get inside right tackle Max Starks, so he tried to go to the outside. Bettis ran up the middle, so by the time Geathers got into the backfield Bettis was already through the line.

Geathers, a second-year player out of Georgia, got destroyed by left tackle Marvel Smith on a Bettis 16-yard run on third-and-2. He just wasn't able to stay in position at all and Smith had no trouble shoving him out of the way. On the basis of this game, I don't think he's strong enough to be an NFL defensive lineman.

If you saw Parker's 13-yard run on third-and-4, you might be able to let Geathers know exactly where on the field he left his jock after Parker juked him out of it. Geathers got into the backfield untouched, had a clear shot at Parker, and grabbed at air as Parker took a stutter step and ran past him.

* * * * *

Marvin Lewis doesn't need my advice on how to build a defense, but I do have one final thought about what the Bengals can do to improve, and it involves the defensive lineman who didn't play on Sunday.

Cincinnati must get a bigger pair of defensive tackles, like Lewis had in Baltimore with Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa. Cincinnati has one big defensive tackle, 320-pound tackle Shaun Smith. He was inactive for the Pittsburgh game, which doesn't make much sense. If there's ever a team you don't want to take on with an undersized defensive line, it's the Steelers. If Smith is worth a roster spot at all, he should have been on the field Sunday.

Cincinnati selected middle linebacker Odell Thurman in this year's draft. He's small and fast, which means he can pursue running backs but he can't fight off guards. To be effective in the Marvin Lewis defense, he has to have a couple of big tackles in front of him. There's not one player on this unit who can plug a gap and serve as an anchor in the middle of the line. Until there is, this Bengals defense will look less like Lewis's Ravens and more like Shula's Bengals.

Each week, Michael David Smith looks at one specific player or one aspect of a team on every single play of the previous game. Standard caveat applies: Yes, one game is not necessarily an indicator of performance over the entire season. If you have a player or a unit you would like tracked in Every Play Counts, suggest it by emailing mike-at-footballoutsiders.com.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 27 Oct 2005

44 comments, Last at 07 Feb 2007, 5:12am by AxisMundi

Comments

1
by James (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 1:13pm

Is this a generalized weakness of the Bengals, or are the Steelers merely their nemesis? True, they have a finesse defensive line, but should we be surprised that they were man-handled by the NFL's premier power running team?

Their remaining schedule is not difficult, save at Pitt. and Indy at home. They end the season at Kansas City, but by then their playoff status should be beyond alteration. They still have Green Bay, Baltimore twice, Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo at home. This still a team that can win 10-11 games, particularly if Palmer bounces back and puts up some more big games.

2
by Israel (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 1:14pm

Nice piece. Next week maybe you will do the Ravens and the Packers after that.

3
by A. Diggity Dawg (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 1:31pm

Once again, a great EPC. I like yours a lot better than Ned's, which seem to take a much broader view of a team rather than drilling down and really examining the plays in a specific game.

And your point about Pollack was right on. He might be undersized for an end, but look at Mathis on the Colts; he's really productive and is even smaller than Pollack, I believe.

4
by zip (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 1:38pm

This still a team that can win 10-11 games, particularly if Palmer bounces back and puts up some more big games.

Of course, Cincy might get 10-11 wins against weak competition, but they aren't going anywhere in the playoffs against Pittsburgh/Denver/Indy/KC/San Diego with this kind of Run D.

5
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 1:54pm

This team reminds me of the 2003 Colts. An explosive offense that can put up a lot of points, but a defense that struggles espicially against the run. I see 11 wins and a first round playoff loss in thier future (Most likely in Denver).

6
by noahpoah (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 2:06pm

Wow, this column is just like that great new column about DeAngelo Hall on espn's page 2.

Ha, ha, just kidding. Nice work as usual, MDS. I love (good) football journalism that explores the offensive and defensive lines.

I haven't seen much of the Bengals this year, so I don't know how their secondary is, but it seems clear that their weakness against the run hasn't meant too terribly much in their other games (much like the Colts' situation). It seems like the biggest issue in this game was the mismatch of strengths and weaknesses for these two teams.

7
by Brian (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 2:26pm

Interesting article!

The Colts still have problems against the run, although not as bad as 2003. It will be interesting to see what happens when they play the Steelers. They haven't been nearly as bad as the Bengals, but they still can't keep an offense from getting a first down running on all 3 downs unless they are able to get a loss on one of the downs. They do play the Steelers at home though so their defensive line speed will be as good as possible, we'll see if they can get those tackles for losses.

8
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 2:33pm

A superb analysis. I can only find one comment that I disagree with and that is: "Marvin Lewis doesn’t need my advice on how to build a defense."

As a Bengals fan I implore you to bring some of this to coach Lewis' attention. For 2+ seasons now we have been voicing concerns about the D-line and Lewis continually says the D-line is fine and that the run defesne is weak because of bad tackling by linebackers and safeties.

While this is a plausible argument, the total lack of any pass rush at all (Cincy only has 10 sacks in 7 games, and 7 (!) of these came against the Texans) surely suggests that the D-line just aren't talented enough to beat single blocks on a regular basis.

Also, I totally agree with your comments on David Pollack moving to DE full time. His college weight of 265 is comparable to Dwight Freeney and certainly not too small for a DE in a 4-3 alignment. It doesn't make sense to draft one of the most productive pass-rushers in college and then make him cover TEs and RBs.

Finally, in response to the question in comment #1: this is a general Bengals weakness. The weak run defense has been hidden in some earlier games when the Bengals offense piled on points early and often and took opponents away from the running game. However, if you look at the yds/carry conceded by Cincy it is clear that they have been weak versus the run all season.

9
by Joey (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 2:35pm

Great insight on Shaun Smith and their need for bigger tackles.

10
by Nate (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 2:38pm

Their secondary seems to be giving up quite a few yards, but is able to get a lot of takeaways as well.

11
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 2:42pm

I think the secondary has been great. Cincy rank 10th in the league in yards passing conceded per game, and, as mentioned before, that's with absolutely no pressure on opposing QBs at all.

12
by James (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 2:45pm

B,

Once again we disagree. I was thinking Denver was their only chance at winning a playoff game. Maybe those overrated Colts as well.

No way they are gonna beat any hardnosed team.

I think they can beat Denver because Plummer is Plummer.

Indy because I don't think they can punk Bengals up front like Jax, Pitt, NE(when healthy) etc.

13
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 2:56pm

James: Perhaps you haven't noticed, but Denver is pretty good at running the ball. Anyways, I realized after I posted that they're not going to be playing in Denver. Denver, the #3 seed, will get the #6 seeded wildcard team, which would be San Deigo. Either that or the other way around. Cincinatti is going to be the #5 seed (wildcard with higher record) and will get the #4 seeded Patriots (who have lost to both Denver and San Deigo, losing the tiebreaker for the #3 playoff spot.)
I'm sure we can both agree that Cincinatti will struggle against the Patriots. So I had the result right, but not the location. Then the Patriots will lose to the Colts in the division round, a game that will retroactively be labeled "not a big game" so pundits can save thier "Manning can't win a big game" arguements for the AFC championship. That will be interesting because thier opponent will be either Denver "Can't win without Elway/TD," San Deigo "Marty can't win the big one" or Steelers "Cowher can't win the big one."

14
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 3:01pm

I understand what people are saying about bigger bodies in the middle, but it just doesn't seem like there's any objective reasoning behind it. The Bears have one of the best run defenses in the league and they don't have any big uglies. The DTs aren't small but they're not Adams or Washington. There are different ways to run a defense and Dungy has shown many people that one of those ways is to have quick lineman shooting the gaps and getting behind the O-Line. It would be interesting to do an analysis of weight compared to run stopping but I think really the issue is schemes and talent, not necessarily body weight.

15
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 3:05pm

re #14: I absolutely agree. That's why I've tried to draw attention to the lack of pass rush. Undersized but quick defensive lines should at least be able to rush the passer, even if they get gashed by running games. The lack of pass rush combined with lack of run defense suggests the line is just simply not very talented.

16
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 3:22pm

"True, they have a finesse defensive line, but should we be surprised that they were man-handled by the NFL’s premier power running team?"

How do you figure? Pittsburgh is 17th in rushing DVOA. Their offensive line is 20th in adjusted line yards, and below the NFL average in power success, 10+ yards, and preventing stuffs.*

*numbers from before this past weekend's games since they have not been updated yet. So they may have improved to average in those categories because of this game against the Bengals.

17
by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 3:23pm

mactbone, that's a really interesting comment about the Bears. I think one difference between the Bears' defensive line and the Bengals' is that the Bears' small defensive tackles (by small, I mean 300 pounds) are better at recognizing how plays, especially counters and misdirections, develop, and are better at keeping guards off the linebackers.

18
by Tony D (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 3:28pm

Thanks for doing the Bengals, MDS!

19
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 3:34pm

#16: That's an excellent point. Aside from "That Jacksonville Game," PIT has been one of the premiere passing, not running, teams according to DVOA.

#17: I think another distinction with the Bears is that they seem to be freakishly strong. They're able to shoot gaps and get to the QB on passing plays with their speed and use that strength to stand up 2 O linemen per D lineman, to block inside holes, and then rely on their fantastic linebackers to come up to help them if the back kicks out to the side.

20
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 3:50pm

Duane Clemons is evidence that mediocrity can last a long time in the NFL. He has to be given credit for hanging around, at least, although I'd think the veterans minimum will bite him some day.

21
by bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 3:57pm

RE: #13
B, you are entirely right about the AFC Championship game. Nobody will win! (You forgot about Denver not being able to beat the Colts when it counts and that Dungy can't win the big one either, BTW--God, what a bunch of failures!).

Seriously, as a Colts fan the only game that worries me is the AFC Championship game and the only opponent that really worries me is Pitt (Like the analysis above, it's a strength vs weakness issue). Of course, that's putting the whole caravan of carts before the horses... I'm thinking home field will be important in the playoffs, as it usually is (especially if Indy and NE/Pitt face each other).

22
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 4:14pm

I left out the "Dungy can't win the big one" because I figured it would be overshadowed by "Manning can't win the big one." I also conviently left out the fact that Cowher actually made it to the superbowl once, which kind of negates the "Cowher can't win the big one" argument, although I guess the AFC's ineptitude means we don't count the AFC championships from the early 90s as big games.

23
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 4:19pm

I thought it was strange Cincy would draft Pollock as a 4-3 linebacker. Everything else I read said he was a 4-3 end or a 3-4 'backer. Of course, his lengthy contract negotiations limited how much he was gonna learn about a new position anyway.

24
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 5:07pm

Re #12: You must have missed the memo. Plummer hasn't been Plummer since he left Arizona. Haven't you heard, he hasn't thrown an INT in almost 5 and a half games now? Or that Denver Jake has a higher winning percentage over the past 3 seasons than any QBs in the NFL other than McNabb, Manning, and Brady?

25
by Ryan Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 6:08pm

Im not too sure if this is the forum to make requests but I will anyway. On one of your upcoming EPC's could you guys do the Cardinals O-Line. They have the most negative yard rushes in the league and I dont think its their RB's, something is up with the line. Thanks Much!!

26
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 6:13pm

All these requests to watch bad squads. Everyone must really hate you, MDS.

27
by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 6:19pm

Small tangent from the topic of the article (what a shock) --

RE: 13

Are you predicting that San Diego will reach the playoffs over Jacksonville and KC? Their strength of schedule vis-a-vis Jacksonville says to me that San Diego is D-U-N, in spite of their high DVOA.

As for the Bengals, I'm not prepared to write them off, but it does look to me like their defense has plateaued pretty earlier. The first few weeks, they were creating turnovers like crazy. Now that they aren't, the defense is starting to get exploited. In that respect, the comparison to the 2003 Colts (and even the current Colts) is pretty good -- their defensive stops depend on big plays, rather than shutting the opponent down.

28
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 6:23pm

Plummer hasn’t been Plummer since he left Arizona.

Except when he lets his left hand make the decisions.

29
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 6:32pm

Re #27: Yes, Yes I am. I'm convinced that SD is going to the playoffs, despite thier 3-4 record and the easy schedule of Jax. I don't have any real stistical evidence or proof or anything, but it's my feeling that a team as good as SD has to make the playoffs and these things have a way of working themselves out. I may be over-emphasizing thier shellacking of the Patriots, though, and perhaps SD just isn't as good as I think they are. Thier last two games are an indication that all is not well in marty-land.I'm not sure KC is for real, though, they are just too old to make a serious playoff push in December.
Is it wierd that it's only October and we're already talking about the wildcard? Any one of those teams could make a push and win thier division.

30
by johnt (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 7:22pm

How do you figure? Pittsburgh is 17th in rushing DVOA. Their offensive line is 20th in adjusted line yards, and below the NFL average in power success, 10+ yards, and preventing stuffs.

But that ignores two factors:
1) The degree to which defenses sell out to stop the run. This is reflected in their excellent passing DVOA; does anyone think if they did what the numbers say and started passing like the 2004 Colts?
2) The fact that in most of their games, there have literally been no passes at all starting somewhere early in the fourth quarter. The fact that their numbers aren't worse when the defense knows there is NO CHANCE EVER of a pass is amazing.

31
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 8:01pm

"But that ignores two factors:
1) The degree to which defenses sell out to stop the run. This is reflected in their excellent passing DVOA; does anyone think if they did what the numbers say and started passing like the 2004 Colts?
2) The fact that in most of their games, there have literally been no passes at all starting somewhere early in the fourth quarter. The fact that their numbers aren’t worse when the defense knows there is NO CHANCE EVER of a pass is amazing."

And how does this turn Pittsburgh into the NFL's 'premier' running team which was the assertion I was responding to?

32
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 8:40pm

I think his point wasn't that they put up good numbers, but that they could put up the numbers they have and be successful with it when every single person on the field know that's what they're doing. It's an argument, and it says a lot about the talent they have. I wouldn't go so far as to say premiere, but they are impressive.

33
by John P (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 10:26pm

Re #27: I am ready to write them off. They may still make the playoffs due to their easy schedule, but against an average schedule they would be lucky to make the playoffs.

The defense has not "plateaued early". The quality of their opponents has finally risen. The first 3 weeks are the same story, Cincinnati's O puts them up a decent amount early and bad passing teams (CLE MIN CHI) have to try and pass to catch up. Week 4 they are tied with the Texans in the 4th quarter (read that again!), but Senor Capers decides to call one run the rest of the game. Weeks 5-7 are a more realistic measure of this team, and it is mediocre. A good O, a poor D, maybe slightly positive overall.

That said I see the Bengals winning 9-10 games and making the playoffs. But I don't see a playoff team I would favor them beating in the first round.

34
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 11:33pm

#33: I mostly agree with you, but I would disagree and say that Cincinatti did plateau early with an insane rash of interceptions that propped its pass defense rating much higher than it should be. Remember, it's adjusted for opponent, and I think the system understood the (bad) teams it was playing pretty early on.

35
by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:28am

MDS, great work again. (I seem to type that every week).

We saw this game in the UK, and the Bengals got a shoeing up front. Looking ahead, are there any DT prospects in next years draft that might help the Bengals?

36
by Bengal Bob (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 12:16pm

As a Bengals fan you must now treasure the value of early round draft picks where one picks up beefy fast DL. I have to point to the fact that this team doesn't win 1 playoff game without Carson Palmer so what is the point of treasuring your Jon Kitna's backup roll--Cincinnati should have traded Kitna to JETS for a 2nd round-choice giving them 2 2nd round choices to draft AJ Hawk(OSU) and and beefy fast DL.

37
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 12:46pm

Hawk's a serious, serious stretch for Cincinnati. I doubt Hawk will last until the second half of the first round, even. "Draftnik" questionable knowledge aside, almost every place I've seen has him pegged for the top half of the first round.

38
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 5:37pm

I thought Hawk would've been a first-rounder had he come out last year, even. Getting him in the 2nd, along with a huge, fast tackle would require many other teams to consult with Isaiah Thomas before drafting (linemen that are both big and fast tend to go really high - in the second round you get big or fast, rarely both).

I think the reason they don't deal Kitna is these words: "Starting at quarterback for Cincinnati, Craig Krenzel." With Kitna, they can at least be competitive. With Krenzel, not so much. Unless they're doing genetic manipulation to create next-generation genome linemen or something.

39
by Fnor (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 11:50pm

#38: What, was he a Mol Gen major? Did I miss something?

40
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 11:59pm

Yep, Krenzel majored in molecular genetics at Ohio State. He has said he'll go to medical school when his NFL career is over.

41
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/30/2005 - 12:57pm

Like some of the previous comments mentioned, Lewis has made this defense the same way Dungy did. What it means is that they only look good when they get ahead. If teams stay close and run the ball at them, they can move down the field. The Colts have improved this year, so the Cincy 2005 defense is more comparable to the Indy defenses of 2003 and 2004.
They invested a very high pick in Justin Smith, and if he's still that one-dimensional, it's a sad state of affairs in Cincy. If you're one-dimensional, you had better be like Freeney or you can't be a full-time player.

42
by LostInDaJungle (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 1:30am

Well, our offense did a poor job of keeping the steelers off the field... When you look at TOP for the first and second half, and then look at YPC... The Bengals D did well until they got left on the field 20 out of 30 minutes...

The Steelers controlled the ball for 10 Minutes in the 3rd, and the Bengals took the kick-off.

43
by NYChawk (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 3:35am

Great column, I enjoy reading it weekly.

If you really want to do a great EPC column, you should grab a hold of some Seahawks film and watch Big Walt Jones on every play.

Many believe that he is having one of the most dominant seasons of any player ever at his position. IMO, he's definitely the best LT in the game, with ease. Go ahead, check out some film of any of his games and you'll never see his man come anywhere close to the QB, it's great stuff to analyze.

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by AxisMundi (not verified) :: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 5:12am

...2 seasons later and Justin Smith is known more for his ability to play the run more than his pass rushing skill.