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Lack of depth at DE hurting Wallace Gilberry

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The departure of Michael Johnson and poor contribution from Margus Hunt and Robert Geathers is holding Gilberry back.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals' pass rush has been almost nonexistent in 2014, with Dunlap being the only bright spot until Geno Atkins is back to his old self, and that is already happening. Wallace Gilberry has only 1.5 sacks so far, down from 7.5 in 2013 and 6.5 in 2012, his first season with the team.

But he is probably the third best rusher Cincy has, and the second best interior rusher in the team. He was a key piece for Mike Zimmer's stout defense when Atkins went down last year, lining up inside in the nickel front and playing an average of 47.8% of the snaps, and that is when he was at his best.

This season, he's part of the base defense and is playing around 71% of the snaps, mostly outside, when, even though he has been more effective than Geathers or Hunt, his production drops. Gilberry is better suited for a 3-4 defensive end, so he's playing way out of position right now.

The departure of Michael Johnson and poor contribution from Margus Hunt and Robert Geathers is holding Gilberry back. With such a thin DE unit, Paul Guenther has no other alternative than playing Gilberry on the edge (Geathers snap count is around 52% and Hunt's at 24%), thus hurting what he can bring to the table for this team inside.

He is still one of the few green spots for this Bengals' defense, leading the squad with 23 QB hurries and is second with 7 QB hits (stats via PFF). Guenther has tried to give him more opportunities, but seeing Peko cross-rushing is no fun at all, if you ask me.

Cincinnati could really use his speed more often.

And this is yet another mistake by the front office, that misjudged what they had in the roster and overvalued it. That third-round pick wasted invested in defensive end Will Clarke looks worse each day. The Bengals believed the defensive line was rich enough that they could afford a redshirt player, and it is hurting Gilberry and the entire unit, just like Bodine playing center is not helping Boling, Zeitler, Pollak and the running game at all with his inability to get a push or his cement toes (he gave up a sack against a 3-man rush last Thursday).