If we go strictly by Pro Football Focus' grades on Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko, then one has to think to themselves, should he even be on the team? According to their grades, Peko posted an overall grade of -6.9 in 2010, ranking-third worst compared to any defensive player. It's even worse against the run, graded at -5.9. The second-worst defensive player against the run is Frostee Rucker with a grade of -1.7. The same song and dance in 2009 where Peko posted a -5.5 with a -7.6 score against the run. Only Tank Johnson's -7.9 ranked lower. Again in 2008, Peko scored a -9.4 grade with -5.3 against the run.
Maybe the grading system is flawed because defensive tackles tend to be the first defensive players that offensive linemen have to account for. Stationary, not moving like a linebacker, or athletic like a defensive end, defensive tackles position themselves between the guards, often inviting themselves as a target for two offensive linemen -- if you include the center. How are those grades factored? How are double teams on defensive tackles weighed? We imagine clogging a gap, holding his ground would be graded favorably whereas if the defensive tackle, even against a double team, is driven back, twisted and thrown out of the gap, neutralized at the point of attack, isn't graded favorably.
So if we go by Pro Football Focus' grades, he's not the team's best defensive tackle. But that doesn't mean Peko can't further establish himself as a team leader. From Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
"It is good seeing everyone and just getting to build that chemistry and get things going," said defensive tackle Domata Peko, who helped organize the workouts. "I'm tired of working out and just lifting weights. You can't replace on the field work with just lifting."
Peko said he felt a "burden in his heart" to get organized sessions together. With the help of his wife, Clif Marshall at Ignition and input from Rey Maualuga, Robert Geathers and Jones, Peko put together a playbook and a schedule.
A team like the Bengals can't have enough leaders taking charge. And it's awesome that Peko is doing his part to help get the team together and put the defense on a scheduled work out. There's really nothing to be disappointed about. Except one thing. This was kind of the role we were hoping to see out of Rey Maualuga, the team's likely Dhani Jones successor.