Broken tackles often allow the opposition's offense to pick up first downs, increasing time of possession while the defense wears down. Most importantly, it's a big reason why teams allow massive gains, especially on the ground. As a team the Bengals did well on time of possession, losing the time of possession battle during only six games in 2010 -- all losses. Yet, the The defense allowed 17 rushing plays of 20 yards or more; only two teams in the NFL allowed more (Arizona and Denver). One result could be superior blocking, but many of those have come as a result of at least one broken tackle.
In a recent Football Outsiders posting, Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers posted a Broken Tackle Rate of 17.1%. That means of all the tackles he should have had -- defined as a defensive player in proper position and gets "juked" out of his shoes or the ball carrier escaping the grasps of the defender -- he missed on 17.1% of his chances. With a minimum of 50 tackles, Rivers' rate ranks as the second-worst behind Will Witherspoon at linebacker. Dhani Jones also committed ten broken tackles for a broken tackle rate of 9.2% -- the lowest amongst all NFL players that committed ten or more broken tackles in 2010. Of the players that are eligible (minimum 50 tackles), that only included 28 players.
So that must mean that the Bengals are one of the worst defenses when it comes to tackling. Appearances based on our observation of the team, which takes a biased approach due to our investment with the Bengals, would suggest yes. But according to the Football Outsiders analysis, the Bengals broken tackle rate of 5.6% ranks 16th in the NFL. Fifteen teams posted less total broken tackles than the Bengals defense.