Dec 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (98) celebrates his sack of Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (not pictured) during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals beat the Browns 30-0. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Find New Starter to Replace Domata Peko
Domata Peko‘s skills have been diminishing over the past couple/few seasons, which means it’s time for him to step down and for someone else to step up into the starting role. Doing so will help the defensive line prove to be more effective against the run especially; a necessity for any defense in the AFC North.
The Bengals acquired former defensive tackle Pat Sims this offseason for just such a purpose. Sims has never offered much in the pass rushing game, but his skill set is perfect for first down situations. At 6’2″, 310 pounds, Sims is a player who both possesses the necessary power and natural leverage (being not incredibly tall) to plug holes in the middle of the line.
November 24, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Pat Sims (90) defends during the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans at O.co Coliseum. The Titans defeated the Raiders 23-19. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
When the Bengals chose to move on from Sims in 2013, Peko was still playing reasonably well and the team had added both Devon Still and Brandon Thompson during the 2012 draft. Ironically in 2015, all of these players are again on the roster, so Cincinnati finds themselves in a familiar position when deciding who to keep and who to move on from.
If the Bengals choose to stick to their ways, then Sims could actually be cut while the team retains Geno Atkins, Peko, Brandon Thompson, and Marcus Hardison at defensive tackle. Although this is a possibility, the better on-the-field move is to keep the still effective Sims in lieu of locker room leader Peko. Yet if the Bengals would prefer to retain the leadership of Peko in lieu of Sims, the team could push Brandon Thompson to see if he’s capable of starting.
Thompson possesses similar size to Sims (6’2″, 315 pounds), but is a bit different as a player. Thompson has a quick first step, which theoretically would enable him to be more effective against the pass by shooting gaps and getting into the backfield. As for his effectiveness against the run game, though he does possesses the requisite size and strength, the jury is still out on whether he can be this stack and shed type of player. All the more reason the Bengals must push Thompson in this role come August.
Regardless of the choice Cincinnati makes, the truth is the Bengals must replace Domata Peko as the team’s starting nose tackle alongside Geno Atkins. Peko simply doesn’t demand double teams anymore and cannot handle them when these double teams present themselves. Far to often have we seen him get blown off the line over the past couple of seasons, which keeps him from doing his job. It is also makes things harder on the other linemen and linebackers who face a blocker they typically wouldn’t have to. If the Bengals are able to implement a more effective nose tackle come Week One, expect this defense to take a significant step in the right direction.
Next: A New Starter At Linebacker Also