Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin wasn’t about to make excuses for how his defense performed Sunday against Carolina.
In fact, he placed the blame almost entirely on himself and vowed Cincinnati (2-1) will do better this week at Atlanta (1-2).
The Bengals gave up 230 yards rushing in a 31-21 loss to the Panthers , as Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey diced them up for 184 of those yards.
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“It’s me,” Austin said when asked if it was personnel or scheme issues hurting the Bengals defense. “We’ve had no problem in terms of taking care of the run the first two weeks. We ran across a unique run scheme and obviously I didn’t get it done for our guys. The guys we have, they’re good enough to do it. And we’re going to make it this week.”
Atlanta, which is coming off a 43-37 overtime loss to New Orleans, averages just 97.3 rushing yards per game and presents more challenges in the passing game.
Cincinnati had extra time to prepare for the Panthers after playing its Week 2 game on a Thursday, and Austin said it wasn’t enough.
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Three days later, Carolina dropped a loss at Atlanta in a game McCaffrey caught 14 passes for 102 yards. His previous game-high rushing total was 66 yards, but on Sunday, Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner switched things up to utilize him more in the running game and the Bengals simply couldn’t stop him. McCaffrey ran the ball 28 times, and Carolina went from being the fifth-ranked rushing offense in the league to the best.
“Our plan was to go in and attempt to slow the run game down and not let them beat us that way,” Austin said. “What happens is if you’re able to run the ball like that, the way they did on us, it controls the tempo, they controlled the flow of the game, and that’s not good. We knew he was going to catch some balls. What we didn’t plan on and what we didn’t want him to do was to run the way he did. So I’ve got to look at what I did plan wise and fix it and give our guys something better coming this week.”
Austin also didn’t want to speculate how different things might have been had linebackers Preston Brown and Vontaze Burfict been available.
Brown, the team’s starting middle linebacker and the NFL’s top tackler in 2017 with Buffalo, missed his second straight game after suffering an ankle injury in the opener at Indianapolis, and Burfict still has one game left on his suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
“I don’t go with those scenarios,” Austin said. “We go with the guys we have. We have confidence in the guys we have. And that’s it. If we put our guys out there on the field, we expect them to help us win. To say what if we had this and what if we had that, I don’t buy all that stuff.”
“Nick (Vigil)’s been playing well,” he added. “Hardy (Nickerson)’s done a good job filling in for the first two weeks after P (Brown) got hurt. We just had a stinker. That’s all really. We had a stinker.”
Now, the Bengals also will be without defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow, who was off to a great start to his second season but was carted off in the fourth quarter Sunday. Glasgow confirmed Monday that he tore his ACL and is out for the year. He hasn’t yet scheduled the surgery but called the injury “frustrating.”
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was clearly frustrated Monday too. He cut off a question about John Ross not fighting for the ball on an interception and kept several of his answers short.
When asked multiple times about the struggles in stopping the run, he simply stated his players “have to do better.”
“We had a couple missed tackles, but that wasn’t the majority of it,” Lewis said. “We have to play better.”