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Analyzing the Bengals First Two Series Against Lion Offense

I wanted to take this time to reexamine some things on the first team defense during the first two series. Why the first two? That was when both teams were at full strength. I observe why or how the defense performed and the success/failure of the Lions offensive plays. The analysis is essentially a quick summary -- perhaps what you want to read. The stuff above analysis are my notes which become incoherent at times.


Lions play #1 - 1-10-DET29 (11:24) : Tatum Bell ran for 11 yards on a misdirection to the left. The left guard and center blocked down while the right guard pulled and blocked the first man he saw. The fullback, lined up wide right, began motion and picked up Ahmad Brooks. Brooks not seeing the full back stammered backwards at the collision and was essentially manned. John Thornton was driven about a good five yards and Justin Smith was pushed outside the play. Rashad Jeanty was picked up by the pulling guard. Madieu Williams finally made the stop 11 yards down field.

Analysis: The front seven was owned -- especially at the point of attack. Ahmad Brooks was popped and stunned.

Lions play #2 - 1-10-DET40 (10:46) : The Lions lined up strong side left with a single back. Receivers flanked at both ends with the fullback motioning out wide right. The play started with a hand off to the running back wide left. Justin Smith, not using any special moves, sprinted inside #83 (the guy that lined up opposite of Smith) forcing the running back to run parallel to the LOS for a brief second. The defensive line, other than Smith, was trapped inside and, essentially out of the play. Smith sprinted behind Bell and Landon Johnson came up and popped the left guard who was pulling out left. This freed up Bengals defenders with Bell losing his final lead blocker. Madieu Williams came up and made the stop.

The Center came out and blocked Ahmad Brooks five yards down field and locked onto the middle linebacker for a good five seconds.

Analysis: Good disruption by Smith to slow Bell. Great job by Landon Johnson to take the guard out of the play forcing Bell to lose his lead blocker. Nice stop by Williams coming up and popping the running back.

Lions play #3 - 2-9-DET41 (10:19): Passing plays are a little tough because the camera view doesn't show the entire defense. I'll do my best. The Lions lined up single back with two receivers right, a single receiver left and a tight end that blocked and released on the left. Kitna threw over the right hashmarks to Roy Williams who found a spot about 20 yards down field with Caleb Miller, Leon Hall and Deltha O'Neal sitting underneath. Miller was closest about three yards under Williams.

Analysis. The 23-yard pick up was mostly due to a massive hole in the zone. I don't know if it was by design or broken assignment. But it was massive and it allowed a first down.

Lions play #4 - 1-10-CIN36 (9:44): Another passing play. The Lions lined up single back, a receiver at both ends and a tight end beside each tackle. The tight ends crossed (nearly collided). Kitna hit the right tight end crossing left -- the other tight end was wide open. Again, the Bengals played a zone and Keiwan Ratliff quickly came up and took out the tight end's legs for a minimal five yards.

This play, however, reminded me of the Indianapolis Colts game where the linebackers essentially turned and sprinted back into coverage opening up tons of room underneath. Again, I don't have a full view and they disappear from my television. It's just what I see.

Analysis: This was a good play by Ratliff. While he was lined up against the left wide receiver, he checked off the receiver and crashed the tight end. Again, I'm not sure if it's designed or if he just sniffed it out. Good play, either way.

Lions play #5 - 2-5-CIN31 (9:02): Passing play. The Lions lined up with an I-formation and two receivers out right (hint: no tight end). The full back motioned and sat at the right tight end position. The flanker lined up outside the right tight end. The flanker motioned left and lined up at the left tight end when Kitna received the snap. Got it? Don't worry, I was confused writing it.

Six Bengals rushed the quarterback -- the front four, Landon Johnson and Rashad Jeanty. Jeanty's blitz forced the left tackle to pick him up while the left guard was late picking up Justin Smith -- trying his best to push his shoulder out, but Smith was too far by him.

Analysis: Justin Smith's sack was created because Jeanty's blitz delayed the left guard's reaction to pick up the defensive end.

Lions play #6 - 3-13-CIN39 (8:28): Passing play. The Lions lined up strong side right (tight end lines up right) with a single back, two receivers left and a receiver right. Pressure from Robert Geathers forced Kitna to jump up in the pocket and throw an off-balanced pass to the running back -- incomplete. A tight end blocked Geathers.

Analysis: I also think his play succeeded because the Lions lined up with a tight end covering a pass rushing end. Geathers used his strength to push the tight end into Kitna's peripheral view pressuring the quarterback to make a bad throw.


Lions play #1 - 1-10-DET24 (3:00): Running play. The Lions lined up with a no-tight end, I-formation with two receivers right and a single receiver left. The Bengals lined up with a standard nickel formation. The two linebackers were lost. Caleb Miller, on the left, ran up the middle and then just went left -- the play was going to his right. Landon Johnson did much of the same. He run up the middle and disappeared.

This was a short delay. Kitna took an extra second to hand off the ball to Bell -- which caused the linebackers to run head down up the middle rather than the point of attack. Smith ran in and the left tackle did a good job pushing him towards the middle of the field -- totally away from the play.

Michael Myers did a fine job here -- actually, he's half the reason why the play went for no-gain. The center and left guard double teamed him. Eventually the center chipped off and looked inside to pick off any backside pursuers. At that moment, Myers, with an eye on the running back, pushed down the left guard and made a leaping effort at Bell. He didn't make the tackle, but it forced Bell to stretch further out giving Williams enough time to make his third tackle of the game.

Analysis: The slight delay fooled a majority of the defense who put their heads down blindly running through the middle. Bell got the hand off and moved left. Myers' attempt was good enough to allow Williams to clean up the play.

Lions play #2 - 2-10-DET24 (2:21): Running play. The Lions lined up single back strong side right with two receivers out right and single receiver left. This was a stunt by the defense. At the snap, both tackles instantly ran into the gap to the left. Geathers appeared to be playing pass coverage, took one step back and watched the play. As soon as the point of attack was realized, he crashed. Caleb Miller did a good job taking on a lineman and the lead blocker allowing the other defenders to make the play. Miller was in on the tackle, but more like a dive at the guy because he's about to go down type of deals. Justin Smith saw and took on a pulling lineman and chased down Bell.

Analysis: The luck of the draw was that the Lions play, along with the Bengals stunts, clogged the middle up enough to give Bell a minimal 2-yard gain.

Lions play #3 - 3-8-DET26 (1:48): Passing play. The Lions lined up with two receivers right, a receiver left and an off-set I right. Like the 23-yard pass earlier, Kitna found a big hole with no Bengals five yards from the receiver. Landon Johnson, Caleb Miller and Deltha O'Neal sat underneath and Madieu Williams played deep.

Analysis: Again, I'm not sure if this is by design, which I think it is rather than simple mistakes, but there was another large hole about 20 yards deep on the right hashmarks. The Lions completed the 24-yard pass converting a first down on third and eight. No pass rush.

Lions play #4 - 1-10-50 (1:09): Running play. Standard I-formation, strong side left. Peko, Thornton and Smith were all blocked down by the offensive line. Robert Geathers was untouched -- but the Lions ran a fake end around which forced Geathers to stay home. When the hand off was made, Geathers was already behind the play.

The linebackers were awful here. Well, I shouldn't say awful -- there was no disruption from the front four to stop two offensive linemen from blocking Rashad Jeanty and Ahmad Brooks. Both were non-factors. Landon Johnson was left alone as he misread the play again with no lineman believing he'd be a factor. About seven yards later, Landon did catch up the running back from behind and the untouched Geathers caught up with Bell seven yards down field.

Once again, Brooks becomes a non-factor after he makes contact with someone other than the ball carrier.

Analysis: I believe the Bengals are having a hard time reading misdirection plays and the front four is struggling to hold up blockers on the offensive line. Everyone that was blocked, remained blocked until Bell picked up seven yards.

Lions play #5 - 2-3-CIN43 (:35): Running play. The Lions lined up strong right in a standard I-formation. Instead of a receiver out right, a second tight end lined up beside the first tight end. The Bengals had nine in the box. The play was a pitch right. Both right side tight ends blocked down and the right guard and right tackle pulled out and around like a counter play.

Geathers was turned around becoming a non-factor. John Thornton, eventually finding the ball carrier, went untouched on a stunt that had him swing out wide right. At the snap, the left guard had to take a large step to get in Peko's way. He failed as Peko started filling the point of attack. The pulling right tackle found Dexter Jackson sitting at the line of scrimmage. Jackson did a fantastic job holding his ground against a much larger body. Bell ran at the point of attack and Jackson fought the block to stop Bell's progress. Peko and Thornton finished the job.

Analysis: Jackson held up the right tackle causing the first collision that stopped the running back's progress allowing Peko and Thornton to drop Bell.

Lions play #6 - 3-5-CIN45 (15:00): Passing play. The Lions lined up with three receivers left (trips), a single receiver right and a single off-set (right) running back. The Bengals rushed four. Kitna threw left and had the ball swatted at the line of scrimmage by Bryan Robinson.

Analysis: None.