In case you were lucky enough to miss it, the Bengals got run out of Arrowhead Stadium by the Chiefs Sunday night. Cincinnati looked awful all the way around as the final score ended up being 45-10, which somehow still feels closer than it actually was.
Head coach Marvin Lewis spoke to the media Monday about the loss and a common theme was missed tackles.
The Bengals had 18 missed tackles against the Chiefs, according to PFF. Previous season high was 11 (twice, against Pittsburgh and Baltimore).— Fletcher Page (@FletcherPage) October 22, 2018
That isn’t surprising given how often the Chiefs were able to make the first defender miss.
The Bengals had 12 different players miss at least one tackle with linebacker Vontaze Burfict leading the team with 4 missed tackles. The Bengals are failing miserably in this area which is at the heart of their defensive problems.
“You have to get guys to the ball and be there to finish the play. We had some unblocked guys at the point of attack, but we didn’t make tackles and plays, which makes the scope of the down and distance a lot different,” Lewis told reporters on Monday. “The No. 1 attribute of playing defense is being able to tackle. It’s a ‘want-to, a got-to and a have-to get it done’ (attitude).”
You could tell there was a serious lack of “want-to” out there Sunday, or maybe it was a matter of the Chiefs just having more of it. Either way, the Bengals made a mockery of idea of tackling pretty consistently all night. It got to the point you didn’t even expect Kansas City’s player to be brought down by the first guy. It was a matter of “how are they going to avoid this one?”
The Bengals were playing without linebacker Nick Vigil and cornerback Darqueze Dennard Sunday, but that is a poor excuse for what we saw during the game. We saw players who just didn’t want it nearly as badly as the other team. It is especially bad when the leader of the defense, linebacker Vontaze Burfict, is one of the main defenders missing tackles. It is something that sounds like it could remain to be an issue.
“You have to go and you have to tackle. You have to do a better job. I wish there was a magic word or button to press, but there isn’t,” Lewis said.
Despite saying that though, Lewis does think the issue is a fixable one. Although he has trouble outlining exactly how it is fixable.
“It’s a definitely fixable issue,” Lewis said regarding the tackling issues. “You have to correct it with the people out there, you have to correct it with the person at the point, or you have to correct it with new people. It’s kind of a three-in-one deal.”
That is a hard one to break down. It still feels like though that this defense has an uphill battle coming. It has an easier solution that Lewis even alluded to before. You need guys who want it.
You need defenders who are looking to tackle through a guy instead of just get their arms around them. There were plenty of arms hitting ball carriers on Sunday night, but arm tackles aren’t going to get it done in the NFL.
Maybe the Bengals were still hungover from the loss to the Steelers, but they just didn’t look like they were up for what the Chiefs were bringing to the table. If your team has a problem getting up for a matchup against the top AFC team on Sunday Night Football with a chance to gain a possible tiebreaker later in the season, then you have to wonder what is really going to get these guys off the bus.