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ICYMI: Cincinnati Bengals Report Cards: Defense/Special Teams

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Nov 17, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson (93) hugs defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer during the game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati won 41-20. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Coordinator: B+

Zimmer is in the middle of another impressive campaign. He has lost his best corner, his best 2 cover line backers (Lamur and Taylor), his starting middle line backer and the best DT in the NFL and still has his unit ranked 6th overall. The only thing keeping him from an “A” is multiple late game/half collapses of the defense (see Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, Miami and Baltimore games for example). If not for late game collapses in Chicago, Miami and Baltimore (Cleveland may not have mattered), you may be looking at a 10-1 team rather than a 7-4 team.

Special Teams as a Whole: B+

If not for a few big misses by Nugent, this group would be an “A.” The way Huber has been playing, the 2 blocked punts and 1 TD last week, as well as the overall consistency of the return game and return coverage has been very impressive this year.

Team as a Whole: B-

At the beginning of the year, I would have taken 7-4 at the bye week – especially if it meant a 2 game division lead and legitimate shot at the AFC 2 seed. However, given how the games played out, I think 7-4 is disappointing and, given the inconsistencies of the team, they concern me enough to get just a “B-“ overall.

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