Hobson's Choice: No Dalton

Q: Do you know if the Bengals are looking at picking up Lional Dalton, the so-called "run-stopper" just released by KC? I don't know anything about the guy but obviously Bengaldom is drooling for some run D (and I know injuries are a big part, but it would still be nice to have some more depth).
** --Steve M. Washington, D.C.

STEVE:** Dalton did play 50 games for Marvin Lewis during their four seasons together in Baltimore (with six starts at defensive tackle), but that isn't a fit at this point.

For one thing, Dalton is 31 and if anything they want to young up a line that already has three thirtysomethings in Sam Adams, Bryan Robinson and John Thornton.

Plus, they've sunk too much money into Adams, rookie Domata Peko has looked too good, and they've got too many hopes invested in the second year of Jonathan Fanene to bring in another veteran.

And they're going to have to make room for Fanene on the 53-man roster at some point once he comes off the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and that could be as soon as next week. So it wouldn't make any sense to add anyone.

And I think it's presumptuous to think all the fingers are pointing at the line. The rushing yards didn't start piling up until after injuries at backer and the secondary.


Q: How come every year we hear how the Bengals need to tackle better and are working on it during the bye week? Isn't this one of the most fundamental components to playing defense in football?

Should they really have to work on this every year during the season? These are professionals who should have a competency with tackling and if not should learn how in preseason.
**--Mark, Lakewood, OH

MARK:** Tackling is like chili. No wants to hear about making it because it's so basic, they just want to eat it. But maybe it's not as easy as it sounds on this level after listening to Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden this week.

Look, Gruden and Bengals defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan agree with you. It's a fundamental and there are no excuses when it isn't done. But when a defense that has been so good at tackling like Tampa Bay has the last decade, it points to some factors that aren't isolated to the Bengals

Like the Bengals, the Bucs have been beat up physically. With a salary cap system basically holding you to a finite number of players (some worth roughly a Fortune 500 company), you can't smash each other into the ground with nutcracker drills like High School Harrys. As Bresnahan noted Wednesday, he's down to his third SAM backer and third safety.

Saints running back Deuce McAllister did exactly to the Bucs last week what Laurence Maroney did to the Bengals two weeks ago and turned what should have been sure tackles for short gains into long runs. Bresnahan pointed to a lack of fundamentals that is now surfacing in the college game and infects the pros by bringing the bad habits here. And Gruden looks at the big, rugged backs like McAllister that populate the league.

Again, excuses are like phone bills. Everybody's got one and no one wants to read them. But it's not just a Bengals problem.

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