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Back to basics for defense

Posted Sep 14, 2010


Domata Peko

Look for Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to be on a rampage this week. Look for a concerted effort by the defense to get back to the aggressive play of 2009. Look for Zimmer to get in the face of his defenders this week so they get in the face of the Baltimore offense in Sunday's 1 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium opener.

Look, but don’t think.

“Coach Zim told us he’s going to keep it simple this week,” said defensive tackle Domata Peko after Monday’s film session. “So we can play fast. We were thinking too much. We were trying to be too smart. Just get up and play ball.”

The Bengals got no sacks up front and barely touched Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The same thing was going on in the back end, where five plays of at least 20 yards were finished off in the game’s first 21 minutes.

“In the back end, the four of us, we played tentative. We didn’t play aggressive,” said safety Chris Crocker. “We go after balls, and we missed tackles as a defense. I’m not saying we played soft. I think we outsmarted our own selves. We’ll get back to doing what we do.”

Something we rarely saw last year came on the first series when rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez was left uncovered down the right sideline for a 45-yard gain. It appeared that SAM linebacker Rey Maualuga bit on Brady’s play-fake and then had the misfortune of stumbling back in order to get back and cover Hernandez.

Crocker wouldn’t expound on anything specific, but he said what surprised him is that the Bengals didn’t recover from bad plays until the second half instead of the next snap.

“We have guys who make plays; our playmakers didn’t show up,” Crocker said. “We didn’t bounce back. Usually when you have bad plays you come back and calm down. We didn’t do that until the second half. We were down by too many points it didn’t matter.”

Peko didn’t get specific, either. There was some outside observations that two of Cincinnati's best pass rushers, ends Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom, were rusty. Geathers didn’t play or practice after the first preseason game with a foot problem and Odom missed a few games and a lot of camp with a virus and then a sore knee. Plus, tackle Tank Johnson has missed some time as well as end/tackle Jon Fanene. Fanene had to leave the game in the first half with what looked to be the same hamstring issue.

Zimmer had been warning people that he wasn’t comfortable with the way his defense was playing in the games and Lewis knew why.

“I think our concern was not having some of the front guys that haven’t played football in awhile,” Lewis said. “That’s the biggest thing. We had some guys that missed some time, but that happens. When it’s time to go, you’ve got to go.”

Peko said the front line just didn’t go.

“We didn’t rush the passer well at all,” he said. “We didn’t use our hands well. We were running into guys. We can’t do that. We have to work half a man. There’s only one ball and you just have to go after it.”

Which sounds simple enough.

 

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