Grading The Trenches: Bengals Through Week Three

Right Guard Needs Help

And hopefully it will be coming in week 5 when Bobbie Williams returns from his suspension. Last week I wrote how Clint Boling was over-matched in his first two NFL games (22 negative snaps through two weeks led the team). Last week vs. the 49ers, Boling was pulled after 15 snaps. In his limited time, Clint Boling had 4 negative snaps in only 8 pass plays. I still think he'll be a fine player for the Bengals, but Boling always looked more like a LG to me. He needs to get stronger and have more practice time under his belt.

When Mike McGlynn entered the game, he did slightly better as a pass protector. In 27 pass plays, McGlynn had 4 negative snaps and 3 positive snaps. He's not going to wow you in any phase of the game, but he offers more stability at RG at this point.

Whitworth Pitched Shut Out

Andrew Whitworth has been exactly what we've expected. In three games, he's only had 7 negative snaps. Last week vs. the 49ers, Whitworth didn't have one bad snap. He wasn't playing scrubs either. Most of the game he was facing Justin Smith and Aldon Smith. The Justin portion of the Smith tandem has become a monster in the 3-4 scheme and Aldon was a top 10 pick this year in the draft. I think one time it looked like Justin Smith might have been getting the best of Whitworth, but the pass play was a quick 3-step drop so Whit was able to be aggressive from the start of that play. He ended the game with 49 neutral snaps and 6 positive snaps. Not a dominating performance, but considering his competition, it was a perfect day from your franchise left tackle.

 

O-Line Grades through 3 weeks

Andrew Whitworth

Neutral Snaps: 133

Positive Snaps: 45

Negative Snaps: 7

Nate Livings

Neutral Snaps: 137

Positive Snaps: 33

Negative Snaps: 15

Kyle Cook

Neutral Snaps: 139

Positive Snaps: 31

Negative Snaps: 15

Clint Boling

Neutral Snaps: 87

Positive Snaps: 31

Negative Snaps: 27

Mike McGlynn

Neutral Snaps: 27

Positive Snaps: 7

Negative Snaps: 6

Andre Smith

Neutral Snaps: 125

Positive Snaps: 40

Negative Snaps: 20

As you can see, Andrew Whitworth leads the team in both Positive (45) and Negative (7) snaps. Andre Smith continues to show his boom-or-bust type of potential by being in second place in Positive snaps (40), while also having 20 negative snaps. Of the starters with concrete starting positions, Andre Smith has had the most negative snaps. Also, by looking at these cumulative stats, It's easy to see what pace Clint Boling was on. Kyle Cook and Nate Livings have both been very solid and haven't hurt this team at all. They are both producing more than double the amount of positive snaps than they are negative snaps.

 

Keys vs Buffalo Bills

Less plays from shotgun and more plays with Andy Dalton under-center. Through my research, Andy Dalton is having more success from playing under-center than he is from the shotgun.

Under Center

17 of 28 (61%) - 176 yards (10.4 yards per catch) - 1 TD - 0 Int

Shotgun

38 of 62 (61%) - 301 yards (7.9 yards per catch) - 2 TD - 2 Int

The biggest difference is the 2.5-yard difference in yards per completion and the two interceptions. The Bengals have only called 4 running plays out of a shotgun formation. The defense knows it's a pass play when the Bengals have Dalton in the shotgun.

When Dalton is under-center for the majority of his snaps (see opening drives vs. Browns and 49ers), the Bengals can keep the defense guessing. Of Dalton's 28 pass attempts from under-center, 15 of them have been off play-action passes. This is where the Bengals will find the most success vs. the Bills. Suck their linebackers in and put pressure on the safeties to guess each play correctly.

 

Somebody Needs To Win One-On-One Inside

The way the Bengals have been playing since Bobbie Williams has been absent from the lineup is sliding Kyle Cook over the help the RG, while leaving Nate Livings to hold is own. This has worked for the most part this season. But when the Bengals take on the Bills, the interior of that offensive line must be able to hold up vs Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus. Kyle Williams is one of the best DTs in the NFL and can really wreak havoc inside. Marcel Dareus is getting better every single week and his a force agains the run and also emerging as a penetrative force inside.

The match-ups to watch is Nate Livings vs Kyle Williams and McGylnn/Boling vs Marcel Dareus. Whoever ends up with the one-on-one block is going to have a tough time on that play. It's advantage Bills whenever they get a single block on of their studs at DT.

The Bengals could try to have Andre Smith help the RG and leave a TE and RB to block Buffalo's OLB/DE Chris Kelsay, but this could also be counter-productive because a TE like Gresham could really give the Bills defense fits. It will be interesting to see which DT the Bills are more worried about. It will change how they plan on attacking the Bills.

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