Updated: 5:30 p.m.
The Bengals may be 1-1, but defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer isn't happy this week as they prepare for Sunday's game in Washington (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) following his unit's worst back-to-back showing in his five years with the club.
On Monday he hinted there could be more lineup changes, like the one he made Sunday when he swapped out Taylor Mays for Jeromy Miles at starting safety.
"There may be more coming. I'm not going to stand pat for this," Zimmer said. "It's everything. Technique, discipline, effort, responsibilities, everything. It's a big problem."
Six days after surrendering 430 yards in Baltimore the Bengals gave up 439 more in Sunday's 34-27 victory over the Browns at Paul Brown Stadium marking the most yards allowed in consecutive games. They are the fifth and seventh biggest games under Zimmer as offenses continue to attack the middle of the field.
These are numbers of which he simply isn't accustomed in molding defenses that have finished 12th, fourth, 15th and seventh in the four previous seasons.
"Every aspect of it surprises me," said Zimmer, who went into Sunday's game with nine starters from last season but lost his best linebacker for the year when WILL backer Thomas Howard tore his ACL in Thursday's practice. "It's got nothing to do with it. We don't pass rush, pass cover, stop the run, stop the pass. We don't tackle and play with enough effort."
Zimmer really wasn't pleased with Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson's 32-yard untouched touchdown run.
"It's bad. They ran the one touchdown we made more guys in the box than they could block so it's undisciplined, technique," he said. "All of it."
According to NFL stats, the Bengals are ranked 25th, 28th and 30th on short passes to the left, middle and right, respectively, and in the running game they are ranked 27th and 29th on rushes over the guard.
It's unclear where he could make the next move. While a lot of scrutiny is on middle linebacker Rey Maualuga in his second game back from his knee injury and how the defense is adjusting to the loss of Howard, the defensive line rotation has been decimated. The Bengals had two sacks Sunday as Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden concentrated on getting the ball out quickly, but as the game wore on he had more and more time with the undermanned line taking a bunch of snaps.
"Like all of them," said Zimmer, when asked about Maualuga's progress.
The absence of left end Carlos Dunlap (knee) has been tough for the first two games and while the Bengals seem to expect him back this week, they now have to adjust to what looks to be the season-ending leg injury to backup end Jamaal Anderson. Anderson went down on his 38th snap of the game, which is how many snaps the Bengals are going to have to get from Dunlap unless they sign someone to replace Anderson.
(Indications are it's not going to be former Bengal Jon Fanene at this point.)
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis wouldn't talk about Anderson's injury Monday, but it's feared he suffered a season-ender and the Bengals are going to need an end for this Sunday with Dontay Moch not eligible to return from his NFL suspension until the next home game on Oct. 7 against Miami. Lewis said Andersoin is the only Bengal for now ruled out of Sunday's game.
The big thing is that right end Michael Johnson just isn't getting any breaks. He did a superb job on Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas and ended the first series of the game with a sack. But he ended up playing 90 percent of the snaps and that's tough on the legs if the Bengals want to generate a fourth-quarter pass rush.
In the first two games the Bengals have allowed 11 pass plays of 20 yards or more after allowing 47 last season, when they had a healthy seven-rotation on the line.
Lewis agrees with Zimmer. The defense has to regroup.
"You can't win many football games in the National Football League when you give up whatever we gave up in points yesterday," he said. "I know that for a fact. It's difficult to score as many as we scored. You have to play better on defense and you can't give up explosive plays like we did. The six explosive plays we gave up yesterday, you can't give those plays up – the run and five (plays) in the passing game like that. You're going to put yourself behind a lot. You've got to play better on third-down defense and third-down offense, in order to do it. It comes back to the same things all the time."
»Although quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked a career-high six times, Lewis thought he did a good job "managing" the game against some tough coverages. His only miscue was an ill-advised pass late in the third quarter when he tried to jam it into a tight window with a 14-point lead and it got tipped for an interception that allowed Cleveland to make it a one-score game with possession at virtually midfield.
"He pulled the ball down instead of getting the ball thrown into coverage. He ended up taking some inadvertent sacks, but that was part of not being careless with the football. It gave us an opportunity to play the next snap, and we usually overcame those plays, which was good," Lewis said.
Dalton's passer rating of 93.9 is 14th best in the league and his highest ranking is ninth for average yards per throw of 7.93. Last season he was 6.59. » The Bengals filled Howard's void with special teams guru Vincent Rey and rookie middle backer Vontaze Burfict. Rey, who had played two snaps from scrimmage since he came into the league in 2010, took the bulk of them with 45 snaps and Burfict took the rest with 22. So the Bengals didn't limit the smallish, fast Rey to just pass plays.
On Saturday, Rey got a visit from the man on whom he's modeled his career, his Cincinnati roommate and former Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones. On Saturday, Jones brought the pilot for his TV talk show "In The Zone" to a taping in the PBS parking lots and Rey was a guest.
Jones also gave him some advice.
"He said 'Play hard,' and I know that sounds easy," Rey said. "But when you get wrapped up in the game, you can forget about it."
» Talk about getting a bang for the buck. Bengals wide receiver Brandon Tate, who scored his first offensive touchdown since 2010 on a 44-yard bomb on third-and-six, played 14 snaps and led the team in receiving with 71 yards on three catches.
» Linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy, in contract negotiations with the Bengals and another club as late as the Friday morning practice, took a gritty 10 snaps on special teams after not practicing since he got cut Aug. 31.
» Safety Jeromy Miles made his first start in his 24th game and played 72 percent of the snaps while Opening Day starter Taylor Mays only played special teams. The Bengals looked to use three corners on those other snaps with starting corners Nate Clements and Leon Hall and safety Reggie Nelson playing all 67 snaps.
» The Redskins are having their own problems with their front seven. Defensive end Adam Carriker and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo are done for the year with injuries suffered on Sunday. The Redskins just lost 14.5 sacks from last season.
» Slowly but surely rookie wide receiver Marvin Jones is getting worked into the lineup. He's still looking for his first NFL catch, but he ran 13 snaps against the Browns.
»Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis spent Monday night hosting 50 children from St. Vincent de Paul at a private event at Lazer Kraze near Kings Island. The Law Firm planned to spend two hours hanging out with the kids, eating pizza, and playing games such as lazer tag and air hockey. He was joined by several of his teammates such as fellow backs Cedric Peerman, Brian Leonard, Chris Pressley and Daniel Herron, as well as wide receiver Ryan Whalen, left end Carlos Dunlap and cornerback Jason Allen.