Monday notes: Wakeup call

Where is the frustration level of the Bengals defense? High alert.

Coordinator Mike Zimmer arrived at Paul Brown Stadium 4 a.m. Monday and at 4:30 p.m. at his desk he offered, "I'm not real excited about losing ... we're going to get it fixed it." Asked if he's going fix it with new players or new scheme, he said, "I don't know, but we're going to fix it."

» Here seems to be one of the defining stats of the first six games:

Last year, the Bengals led the NFL in allowing the fewest runs of 20 yards or more with five, according to Elias. And two of those came in the last game of the year after they had already locked up the AFC North. After a slew of missed tackles led to a 36-yard run and a 23-yard run Sunday, the Bengals have already given up more than last year with seven. They are tied for the third most with several teams behind the Bears with 10 and the Raiders with eight.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis acknowledged in his Monday news conference that there are startling differences between this year's defense and last year's defense, even though only one player, cornerback Adam Jones, is new that plays a lot snaps.

"I talked to the coaches about it this morning and I talked to the defensive players about it," Lewis said. "I pointed it out to them where things are different, and things that they did very well last year. They were ahead of the curve and were proactive on some things that went beyond us coaching every step and every move. They understood and took the initiative to get themselves in the right leverages and the right spots."

» Defensive tackle Tank Johnson's take is pretty simple after the dust cleared from the Falcons' 452 yards.

"At the end of the day you just have to be more nasty," Johnson said. "We've got to play with more of a drive to beat people up. Xs and Os don't get it on Sundays. Xs and Os don't get it."

» The day's sound bite? Lewis says he has to do a better job keeping his players poised.

"I've got to do a better job of coaching our guys so that we're executing and playing poised under pressure," Lewis said. "If you put the 15-16 guys on each side of the ball that play out there, they're not going to be all the 11 right guys on each play. We're having a couple critical errors, and a guy has two or three per game and those things can add up, and they're hurting us right now. They're not egregious, they're not huge things generally, but they're ones that can make a difference on us winning the down or not winning the down. We've got to keep understanding that."

» Right tackle Andre Smith's first start of the season not only drew favorable reviews from offensive line coach Paul Alexander, but also Bengals four-time Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson. Anderson, who worked with the club's young tackles last month, is headed back in the next few weeks, but he was on the sideline Sunday.

"Given the conditions, the loud noise, the no-huddle, all the checks, and being down 24-3 and all those things, I thought it was a good performance considering all those things he overcame," Anderson said. "He showed he's got the talent, that he can play. And the thing I liked is he was really into the game. You've got to remember, this is his rookie year."

"I thought he did OK," Alexander said. "I think he will really grow from it and get better as the weeks go on."

What the coaches really liked is that Smith was conditioned enough to play all 74 snaps.

» Special teams coach Darrin Simmons said the decision for Quan Cosby's fair catch of a punt at the Bengals 4 with 28 seconds left came straight from the top. Lewis feared that an end-over-end kick, which is the style of Falcons punter Michael Koenen, would bounce back on to the field instead of in the end zone and several precious seconds would be lost before it was downed.

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