Lining up on sides

The bengals are playing great in nearly every facet of the game except two: the pass rush and run defense. Both of those obvioulsy start with the D-lineman.

In their last game vs Chicago I don't recall them getting much, if any, pressure on Orton. Jones was racking up good yards until a few late no gains. The same story was true with Culpepper and the Minnesota backs and Dilfer and Droughns.

The line is need of a massive overhaul. I like the effort from the guys up-front, and their character too, but the results have been displeasing for some time. I doubt this criticism makes it to bengals.com, but I know Marvin and Chuck are thinking about this too.
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David, San Diego

DAVID:**
If you listen to Marvin, then you know he doesn't think it starts with the D-Line. Plus, this criticism did make it to Bengals.com. But, I agree with you. Two sacks in three games doesn't cut it when you've had the lead for all but six of the season's 180 minutes. Still, I would argue they came out of Chicago holding up better against the run more than people want to give them credit, and at least one coach told me Monday that there was pressure on many of Orton's picks.

As you'll recall, the media hammered Lewis pretty hard on the size of the defensive tackles after his first two seasons because the Bengals were so poor on the run. He kept trying to deflect the criticism from the line by saying the problems were elsewhere, and I thought he was just trying to take heat off his guys.

But, to borrow a phrase straight from Marv-ade, "I see better than I hear." Lewis didn't revamp the run defense this past offseason by attacking the line. He drafted heavily and picked up undrafted guys and some veterans more at linebacker than anywhere else. Plus, he did give the line a massive overhaul by flopping ends Justin Smith and Robert Geathers, benching end Duane Clemons, letting go tackles Tony Williams and Langston Moore, and signing Bryan Robinson.

Which tells me he's sincere in his statements that the blame can't be shouldered only by the tackles or the line itself. So if he's thinking about the D-Line it's probably under the heading, 'What more can we do?"

Let's face it. They haven't faced an elite running team yet, but they played the kind of team Sunday in Chicago that has forever given them problems on the ground. A solid team running the ball that is also committed to it.

Thomas Jones cranked it 27 times for 106 yards. In the previous two seasons when a back carried at least 25 times, the Bengals were 0-9 and a back gained at least 115 yards all but once in those games.

Guys just flat out took over games, ranging from Marcel Shipp to Chris Brown to Curtis Martin to Jerome Bettis.

But Jones never got to take that foothold. On 10 of his 27 runs, he got two yards or fewer and was below four for an average. That represents an improvement. When one of these guys goes off for 20-133 or 28-151, then Bengaldom can gripe.

Agreed, though. Sacks have to come, although I think the general view from the inside is that the line is playing a much better brand of ball this year. I'm sure they want to upgrade just like they do everywhere else. But they also seem comfortable with what they've got there because they did make moves in free agency and training camp to finish the revamp that began when Tony Williams left via free agency.

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