The Bengals rush defense has performed well in successive weeks, allowing the Jaguars and Eagles only 68 yards rushing a piece. Evenly splitting the season into two five-game campaigns, the Bengals rush defense has doubled their efforts, cutting the yardage allowed in half.
|Yards Allowed||Avg.||1st Downs|
|First Five Games||855||171||44|
|Last Five Games||456||91.2||28|
You'll note the obvious trend of lowering the opposing team's rushing efforts, limiting three of the past five teams to less than 100 yards rushing.
It might be somewhat surprising to see that the Bengals defense has only allowed two 100-yard rushers all season (Mewelde Moore, Chris Johnson). Though you'll also note that the Bengals have played various offenses that incorporate a two-back system, like the Cowboys, Titans, Giants, and Jaguars. Based on a different perspective, you could combine the yardage of the top two running backs for the Giants, Cowboys, Titans and Ravens to make the argument that the Bengals have allowed over 100 yards to the opposing team's two leading rushers for that game, which inflates to five games. Again, that depends on your perspective.
I listed the opposing team's leading rusher for the game we played them, and if a second running back got significant chances (through that point of the season), I listed those as well.
Even though the Bengals defense broke a string of nine-straight games allowing a rushing touchdown, touchdowns continue to be a problem. Most aspects against the rush are improving though. So why the improvement? It's not like the Bengals are playing with significant leads, forcing opposing offenses to throw the ball late in the game.
Pat Sims played his first game against the Jets (the first game of the second five-game stretch). Brandon Johnson, who is receiving additional playing time after Rivers' injury and Darryl Blackstock's suspension, has recorded five tackles or more in his past four games, and two seven-tackle efforts against the Steelers and Eagles. Johnathan Joseph (15 tackles against the Jaguars) and Leon Hall are playing tremendous against the run, crashing downhill to protect the edges.
It also seems generally that the Bengals players are playing tougher against the run, filling gaps with bodies and safeties crashing the line of scrimmage, avoiding blocks and making shoe-string tackles. I think the improved effort against the run should be encouraging for fans, if they keep this pace, heading into next season. With a few adjustments (pass coverage, general line blocking, pass rushing), and a returning Carson Palmer, the Bengals should be better than 1-8-1 this time next season.