FanPost

Grading the Trenches: Bengals Defensive Line Through Six Games

Editor's Note: This was before the Bengals play this Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, but we wanted to recognize and promote David Hamilton's FanPost grading the defensive line through the first six games of the regular season. 

The Bengals defensive line has been excellent this year, as many Bengals fans have been able to see. Despite many questions about the youth and relatively poor play of veterans, the entire unit has been able to perform at a very high level. You'd be hard pressed to find five rotations better than the Bengals' right now. Although none of the players have played perfectly, the unit has gotten near that level. Michael Johnson sets the edge and is creating sacks, Atkins blows up guards and centers in a QB's face, Dunlap gets multiple hits, and Peko, Rucker, Fanene, Geathers, and Sims rotating in and giving great effort with their snaps.

 

Total Grades

Run

Pass

Sub Package

(Nickel, dime, Goalline, DE at DT/LB, etc)

Michael Johnson

+3.0

+1.0

+10.5

Robert Geathers (2 missed games)

-1.0

+1.0

-1.0

Carlos Dunlap

+1.0

+2.0

+10.5

Frostee Rucker

+4.0

+0.5

+4.5

Jonathan Fanene

+2.0

+0.5

+2.0

Domata Peko

-3.0

+2.0

+4.5

Geno Atkins

+2.5

+2.5

+13.5

Pat Sims

-1.5

+0.5

+1.0

Amazingly, Pat Sims and Robert Geathers are the only players with an even grade or lower overall, with only 4 out of 24 negative grades vs. a certain play for the whole year.

Consistent Inconsistencies

Pat Sims is considered by many to be the Bengals' best overall DT, and while I don't believe this is true, it's understandable with big plays on both sides. Sims is, however, the Bengals' most inconsistent linemen. This is apparent play to play, and week to week. Most of this comes from his overaggressive playstyle, which teams are beginning to play towards. One play against the Colts comes to mind. Sims goes unblocked and gets up field strongly. Curtis Painter hands off a draw to Delone Carter, and Sims is taken out by a pulling guard. The hole in the line created by Sims allows Carter to get a nice gain.

Carlos Dunlap is similar to Sims in this case, although this is because Dunlap is still in a stage of playing purely like a pass rusher. If he continues his progress from the Colts game, Carlos should settle down as the year goes on. Earlier on in the year, Atkins was the same way, but has now become the team's best DT against the pass and run, creating big plays without losing gap integrity.

Over-aggression vs. Discipline

An important aspect of the success of the defensive line this year has been learning when to have a disciplined pass rush and when to just attack. On a 3rd and 7 in man defense, the line will maintain a disciplined rush so a QB cannot attempt a scramble for a first down. But on a 3rd and long in a zone defense, the D may leave their gaps to try to create clutter to attack the QB with.

Fischer Price Package Out for Blood

The Bengals' nickel defense is easily one of the scariest in the league, with the normal group out there (Johnson at Right DE, Dunlap at Left DE, and Atkins and Fanene at DT) having a sub-package grade total of positive 36.5. Johnson, Atkins, and Dunlap all have a grade over 10. Don't fear Dunlap's lack of sacks either. He is near the tops in the league with QB hits and pressures. He leads the team in ‘disruptions', which I consider any time a QB is made uncomfortable or has his pass affected at all. The sacks will soon come, but teams are utilizing 3 step drops to negate the pass rush. Since these are normally very short passes, it helps the defense tremendously on 3rd down. The team should start to work on an extension for Johnson, and begin talks with Dunlap and Atkins soon, because everyone in this trio has pro bowl potential.

If you need any clarification or specifics on any players or plays, ask in the comments or tweet @David__Hamilton and I will answer you to the best of my ability

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.

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