At week three, it may be a bit premature to throw in the proverbial striped towel because our pass rush, once thought to be a mauling scenario from AMC’s The Walking Dead, looks more like a middle school flash mob full of transfer students attempting to perform the routine from Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Though it may not feel like it to Bengals fans, every team has there share of problems, and further, most of the time they result from injuries. Truly, the Giants are redefining themselves at wide receiver, and the Patriots’ once touted dual tight-end threat now seems to be partially on ice as they head into a tough one against a Ravens squad that is pock-marked at its usual iron-clad linebacker position. The point is that Super Bowl caliber teams don’t panic – they adjust, which what Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer is likely waist-deep in the process of figuring out how to do.
Nonetheless, there is an interesting corollary to apparent ability of the Bengals to get to the quarterback. Since Head Coach Marvin Lewis came to the team in 2003, the Bengals have drafted a defensive end player in every year… except the past two. Granted, Elton Patterson (259th pick in 2003) or Angelo Craig (244th pick in 2008) where seventh rounders who didn’t really pan out, so was Jonathan Fanene (233rd pick in 2005) who certainly seemed to click. Add into that mix home-grown players like veteran Robert Geathers Jr. (117th pick of 2004), Frostee Rucker (91st pick of 2006), Michael Johnson (70th pick of 2009) and Carlos Dunlap (54th pick of 2010); it would seem that the Bengals were trending their picks higher and higher following the tragedy that occurred to David Pollack (17th pick of 2005) in the second game of his NFL career.
Interestingly, Pollack was the only first round defensive end drafted after “The Lost Decade” and the appearance of Coach Lewis. During that time the Bengals drafted several first rounder busts such as John Copeland (5th pick of 1993), Reinard Wilson (14th pick of 1997), and Justin Smith (4th pick of 2001) who while a mediocre defensive end at best is less know for being a waste of a forth overall pick and should be more recognized was the player whose franchising lead to the Bengals being unable to sign Eric Steinbach.
Back to present, it could be argued that Dontay Moch (66th pick of 2011) was drafted as a hybrid linebacker-defensive end, in which case Coach Lewis’s first year of not selecting a pass-rush threat would have been this past draft. It was obviously a calculated decision as former first rounders Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey were acquired very quickly in early free agency to offset. However, with Harvey being released in final roster cuts and Anderson recently placed on the IR list, it seems very logical that the Bengals will look to draft a new pass rush threat with either one of their two second round picks or possibly as late as round three.