The Cincinnati Bengals don’t have to deal with Domata Peko’s shortcomings anymore.
The veteran nose tackle left this offseason to sign a two-year deal with the Denver Broncos in hopes of helping upgrade their run defense. That seems like a comical statement since Peko was often one of the weakest links on the Bengals’ defense for much of his career, but he apparently doesn’t realize that. Peko decided to take a jab at his former team in talking about how the Bengals are focussed on winning a playoff game rather than a championship.
Peko said in Cincinnati that all talk was about winning a playoff game. "Here it's about winning a championships." @DenverChannel— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) May 16, 2017
Domata Peko, on starting anew in Denver after 11 seasons in Cincinnati: pic.twitter.com/30EV9Jjfbs— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) May 16, 2017
The irony of this is too rich as one of the biggest reasons the Bengals have been unable to win a playoff game has been their inability to stop the run. And when your starting nose tackle is annually ranked among the worst in football, he’s part of the problem.
PFF ranked him 106th out of 127 eligible interior defenders last season, which has been the range Peko has been in for most of his 11-year career. That has been a big reason why the Bengals have continuously been gashed on the ground in the postseason, whether it’s by Fitzgerald Toussaint, Jordan Todman, Ronnie Brown, Dan “Boom” Herron, Danny Woodhead, Ronnie Brown or Ryan Mathews.
Let’s take a look at the Bengals’ playoff losses in which Peko was starting:
- 2015: 167 allowed vs Steelers’ backfield of Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman.
- 2014: 114 allowed to Colts’ backfield of Dan Herron and Zurlon Tipton.
- 2013: 196 allowed to Chargers’ backfield of Danny Woodhead, Ryan Mathews and 32-year-old Ronnie Brown (Matthews missed most of second half due to injury).
- 2012: 158 allowed to Texans’ backfield of Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
- 2011: 188 allowed to Texans’ backfield of Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
- 2009: 171 allowed to Jets’ backfield of Shonn Greene and Thomas Davis.
That’s not exactly a murderer’s row of running backs, but Peko’s inability to do much in the middle led to all of those backs looking like All-Pros in the most important game of the year. It’s hard to win games in the cold months of December and January when you can’t win on the ground. Peko helped ensure the Bengals lost the trench warfare more often than not in the postseason.
While Peko is probably in a better position to win a championship in Denver, it’s because they have more depth and won’t have to rely as much on him as the Bengals unfortunately did. He wasn’t the only reason why Cincinnati never won a playoff game, but he was more part of the problem than the solution.