We're finally at the end of another work week. Yes, it's time to take a couple of days off. You deserve it.
All week, we have been discussing the factors that could lead Cincinnati back over the hump and even its tally at 1-1 after last week's season-opening loss at Chicago. Some of the position groups we haven't spent much time discussing this week, though, are on defense. It's been mostly an offense-minded week so far. Some of you might say that's a good thing considering the way the well-paid defensive line couldn't get enough pressure on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler last week to bring him down for even one sack.
Well, like it or not, today is Defense Day and we'll be taking a look at that unit throughout the day.
Let's start off the festivities with our first morning stripes link:
Reporters in Cincinnati caught up with Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer after practice Thursday, as he talked for the first time since the Bengals dropped the opener at Chicago. He wasn't a man of many words, but he was reflective and honest. Most notably, as the Cincinnati Enquirer points out, he used the words "my fault." He was taking the blame for one decision that went against the Bengals on a first-quarter third down against Chicago. Instead of trying to contain the Bears and keep them on the edge of field goal range, he sent rushers in an effort to sack Cutler and push Chicago completely out of range. It backfired. An 18-yard pass to Brandon Marshall on third-and-17 gave the Bears a first down. Two plays later, they scored their first touchdown.
Sticking with the defense, the Bengals' front seven should, in theory, have an easier time getting after Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger than they did Cutler. The Steelers are going through a massive early-season change at arguably the most critical position on the line. Last Sunday, starting center Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the year in Pittsburgh's loss to Tennessee. In his place came the versatile, athletic and uniquely sized Kelvin Beachum. A seventh-round selection in the 2012 draft, the 300-pound Beachum has been used as a tackle and a tight end by the Steelers. After finishing last week's game, which saw Roethlisberger get sacked five times, Beachum will get his first start against Cincinnati's impressive defensive front. Here's how Fox Sports Ohio's Kevin Goheen describes the matchup.
The Beachum-Geno Atkins matchup won't be the only one to watch Monday night. You'll want to take a look near the sidelines when Bengals receiver A.J. Green lines up opposite Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor. Two of the NFL's best at their positions could provide theater as entertaining as Green's matchup with Chicago's Charles Tillman last week. Even though Green caught nine passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, Tillman had two interceptions while covering him. Begnals.com's Geoff Hobson considers this the matchup of the game.
CincyJungle.com closes us out this Friday with a look at how the Bengals' youngest stars -- those acquired the last three years as undrafted free agents or the draft -- have been coming along. It's interesting reading for those of you curious to see where the Bengals are growing. The blog is broken into three categories of young players: the major players, the contributors and the waiting room. Patience is a virtue in the waiting room as Cincinnati waits on those guys to break out.
Enjoy the start to your weekend, folks. We'll be here throughout it, and will help you close it out Monday night, too.