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Bengals Round Table: Reaction To The Team's Depth Chart And The Defensive Pass Rush

Earlier on Tuesday we gathered the Writer's Of The Round Table for a session that included what our expectations are and the general feel for the offensive line. Sometimes it's hard for us not to stray from a particular a topic, so keep in mind we might suddenly shift into other areas, basically allowing us to take the discussion's flow wherever it goes.

In this installment, Jason Garrison, Naji Bsisu, Joe Goodberry and Josh Kirkendall talk about the team's depth chart that was released on Monday and the team's pass rush.

What are your thoughts on the first depth chart that was released yesterday?

Josh Kirkendall: No real surprises. Hated seeing Nate Livings as the first team left guard, but expected it. Thought everything else across the board was expected.
Naji Bsisu: The only thing that surprised me was seeing safety Robert Sands behind Tom Nelson and Jeromy Miles.
Joe Goodberry: No real surprises for me either. I thought it was telling to see Fred Bennett above guys like Brandon Ghee, Korey Lindsey and Jonathan Wade.
Josh: The way I saw it, except for Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Dontay Moch, all of the rookies were listed third-string or "other". I was more surprised at the overall reaction that Carlos Dunlap wasn't named to the first-team.
Jason: That to me was perfectly understandable.

Joe: Same here.
Josh: I understand why people think Dunlap could start and be an every-down defensive end, but he's just not ready yet. And it seems to me that the team benefits more having Dunlap's fresh legs on passing situations.
Joe: I didn't expected him to be listed as the number one defensive end on the depth chart but I do expect him to get just as many snaps as Geathers. Nickel defense is about half of the defense's snaps. Dunlap will get his.
Jason: Yeah. I don't want him hurt or tired when it's third and long.
Naji: I think Marvin Lewis wants Dunlap to stay hungry and keep working hard, so by leaving him behind Geathers he's hoping that will inspire him to put forth maximum effort. Lack of effort was the reason Dunlap didn't see the field earlier last year.
Josh: Good point, Naji.

Joe: I think Michael Johnson got way too many snaps last year and it hurt him.
Jason: Now he's about to get a lot more because he's starting.
Joe: Maybe they should do the same with him?
Josh: I still think Michael Johnson was valuable last year. Often his pressure forced quarterbacks to run into Dunlap. He also has a massive wingspan to knock down passes.
Naji: Knowing that he's set at defensive end might help him. He may have been a little overwhelmed by trying to work at both linebacker and defensive end last year.
Jason: Besides I think it's time to give him a shot at starting at defensive end for an entire year. I think he could be very good there on every down.
Joe: True. Johnson has never been a full time defensive end during training camp. Which has stunted his development in my opinion. Hopefully this is his breakout year.

Josh: This front four unit, the Fisher Price Package, has to be one of the more eagerly anticipated aspects of this team this year. Especially with the pass rush. Atkins up the middle, Dunlap coming around the outside; enough to give me nightmares. And I'm not even a quarterback... yet.
Joe: Don't we love Geno Atkins too? How long has this team been looking for an inside penetrator?
Josh: Pro Football Focus rated him as the team's best pass rusher.
Naji: Picking him up in the fourth round was a steal. Props to the Bengals on that one.

Jason: Finally we have some guys that know how to get to the quarterback. And on top of that we have Dontay Moch who could come in obvious passing situations. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer finally has some guys that can really get to the quarterback.
Josh: Sort of neutralizes the loss of Johnathan Joseph, if these guys do a better job getting to the quarterback.
Joe: To me, Atkins was the biggest reason Dunlap got all of those sacks. There's nothing more frustrating to a quarterback than pressure up the middle that's in your face.
Jason: That's very true, even if they don't get to him every time, it makes the quarterback nervous to get rid of the football too early.
Joe: Or forces the quarterback to bounce outside. And since most quarterbacks are right-handed, they rolled right into Carlos Dunlap.
Josh: Paul Brown, I think it was him, says that three things can happen during a pass play. And two of them are bad. A fierce pass rush that doesn't end with a sack can be as effective, leads to many things the benefits the defense.
Joe: Look up teams who get a lot of sacks. They usually don't get many interceptions. But the team that consistently brings pressure gets the interceptions.

Jason: I'm getting really excited about our defense right now. I kind of want to punch something.
Naji: Nice.
Josh: Take a trip to Atlanta. I think Bob Bratkowski is hanging around somewhere. Can we think of a better target?
Joe: Carson?
Naji: Mike...
Jason: Naji got it.

Josh: What about Frostee Rucker? He's typically a good pass rusher, when he's healthy. Would like to see him for a full (healthy) season.
Naji: Frostee has shown some flashes. He might be the reason the team doesn't seem to be going after Fanene all that hard.
Joe: I like Rucker. He's why I don't think its a must to re-sign Fanene. Rucker and Michael Johnson can rotate. Plus Rucker can rush from the inside. Just has to stay healthy.
Jason: Tank Johnson had some years earlier in his career when he was with the Bears where he got a few sacks... I would like to see him do that again.
Joe: I'd be alright if they cut Tank.
Naji: Yeah I'm with Joe on this one. He hasn't really impressed me.
Jason: Not as a Bengal, no he hasn't.
Josh: I think those years are long gone for Tank. Pat Sims would likely be Atkins' pass rushing buddy at tackle.
Naji: How is Sim's knee holding up?
Josh: He's been on Active/PUP during Training Camp so far. Not known when he'll take the field.
Joe: Its been Geathers in nickel. But Dunlap was GREAT at rushing from inside while at Florida. I'd like to see Dunlap get some snaps there. Have Moch play some DE in nickel.
Josh: To be honest, I'll be surprised if Geathers takes many pass-situation snaps anymore. Seems to me that he'll be more of a role player during rush situations, where he is still more than serviceable.
Joe: I hope you're right, Josh.
Josh: Me too, Joe. Me too.
Naji: Between Tank's less than stellar play and Sims knee, I'd feel better if the Bengals picked up another defensive tackle.
Josh: And now you guys see why the team is still going after Fanene, who plays inside during passing situations.

Joe: From what I've seen. Clinton Mcdonald is going to make this roster again. Especially if Tank gets cut.
Josh: McDonald has looked noticeable during those training camp videos
Jason: I'm expecting the defense to be back where it was in 2009 over the next couple years. The offense really needs it to be. I think we have the right guys in the right places to do that.