Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is not one to sugar coat anything. He tells it like it is, and based on the defense's performance last Friday against the Detroit Lions, you had to figure that he was going to lay into his guys. Zimmer suprised us all by coming out after the film session saying that he saw some things to make him optimistic about the defense's potential for this season. He said,
One of the biggest concerns was how easily the Lions quarterbacks carved up the Bengals defense. All together, the opposing quarterbacks had 23 completions out of 33 attempts for 280 yards and three touchdowns. Zimmer placed most of the blame on Bengals defenders playing soft pass coverage. Combining the soft coverage with the lack of contesting passes, the Lions were able, on average, to get the pass off in under 2.5 seconds. Being able to find an open receiver that fast and get the ball out to them completely negated the Bengals pass rush. Zimmer stated,
"I wanted to come in and chew some (players out), but I watched the tape and it's not that bad. It's correctable things. I know everyone's in a panic. We have a sense of urgency too but we're not panicking."
"We gave up too many easy catches. I know everyone (griped) that the pass rush wasn't there and all that (stuff) but the ball came out less than 2½ seconds every time. They were all quick throws so if we're going to make him pull the ball down we have to cover better."
With Zimmer believing that the defensive woes can be fixed, he was able to focus on some of the positives. He was extremely happy with the run defense. The Lions only averaged 2.1 yards per carry. A large reason for the stout run defense was Rey Maualuga's seamless transition to the middle. If Zimmer is able to straighten up the defensive backfield, combined with Carlos Dunlap and Jonathan Fanene set to begin practicing on the defensive line, the Bengals defense may be able to keep the team close enough for the young offense to generate enough points to engineer a few wins.
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