Cincinnati Bengals Defense Must Improve Against the Play-Action in 2012
The Bengals' Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer is widely considered one of the best in the league and a sure-fire head coach candidate, and for good reason. Zimmer joined the Bengals and immediately transformed the band of castaways into a consistently elite defensive unit.
However, Zimmer's units have not been without flaws over the years. According to Rivers McCown of Footballoutsiders.com, the Bengals were one of the worst teams in the league last year against the play-action.
This is a result of a variety of factors.
For fans watching the Bengals over the past decade or so, the team is widely notorious for over-committing on most plays. Play-action, screen passes and misdirections have always exploited the Bengals for big gains in recent history.
To be specific, last season the Bengals were weak at the middle linebacker position when Rey Maualuga was healthy. When he was injured, his backup Dan Skuta made the same mistakes. As the heart of the defense, the middle linebacker can't bite consistently on the play-fake, something both Skuta and Maualuga did all too often.
The plethora of injuries at the cornerback position did not help things.
A cornerback has to stay committed to the pass long enough for the rest of the defense to realize a play-fake is happening. If a cornerback bites on the fake along with the rest of the defense, which occurred a lot last year, the defense gives up the big play.
Finally, while free safety Reggie Nelson was inconsistent (at best) last season, his counterpart, strong safety Chris Crocker, was susceptible to giving up the big play on almost every fake.
However, all is not lost for Cincinnati in this regard next season. The offseason additions and upgrades to the roster show that Zimmer has made it a point to address this issue and improve on it next season.
It helps that veteran cornerback Leon Hall will be returning next year, but the team also went out and drafted the physical cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Kirkpatrick excels when he plays physical man coverage, and as long as he can stay committed to the pass, he should be able to help against play-fakes.
The Bengals also released Crocker and have appeared to promote Taylor Mays, an athletic freak that has the ability to be an upgrade over Crocker in these situations. The likely line of thinking is that should Mays fall for a play-fake, he has the pure athleticism to recover much faster to where he is supposed to be than any other player on the roster at his position.
Maualuga will retain his role as the starting middle linebacker, but the team is hoping he can learn from his mistakes last season. Remaining healthy will play a large role in this as Maualuga was playing well before his ankle injury.
As the NFL continues to transition to more of a passing league with the focal point being the tight end position, it would behoove the Bengals to continue to beef up their play-fake defense. The majority of play-fakes center around throwing the ball to a tight end, a position the Bengals have struggled mightily to contain over the past few seasons.
Mays' promotion will mean he is now the one the Bengals hope can contain tight ends. He certainly has the physical qualities needed, but the jury is still out on whether he can shut down tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The Bengals certainly hope he can.
If the Bengals realize the play-fake is a glaring weakness defensively, it is a safe bet all the offensive coordinators around the league realize it as well. The Bengals have made some moves this offseason to address the issue, but only time will tell if this deficiency that has haunted the team for years will finally become a nonissue.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?