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Grading The Trenches: Bengals Bye Week Update

Week six isn't the midway point of the season, but it's a good opportunity for the Bengals to do some self-evaluations. During the bye weeks, teams will scout themselves to get a better feel for their own tendencies and habits. From these evaluations, the Bengals will be able to enhance what they're doing correctly and correct the consistent errors. I'll be doing the same thing in our own normal format. Looking back at what's working and what needs to improve for the Bengals to make a second half run.

The Curious Case of Andre Smith

Andre Smith has a bit of a reputation, both good and bad. One of his good traits is his strength and ability in the run game to move the man in front of him. At least that was in his scouting report when the Bengals drafted him out of Alabama with the 6th overall pick. A left tackle at Alabama, Smith was supposed to be a liability as a pass protector but more than make up for it as a run blocker. That's the main reason most teams viewed him as a right tackle or even guard in the NFL.

Instead, Andre Smith has been a great pass protector for the Bengals in 2011. Through six games, we have graded Andre Smith with 48 Positive/Wining blocks and only 18 Negative/Losing blocks. His Win/Loss pass blocking ratio (2.5) is second to only Andrew Whitworth's (5.9). His ability to man the right side has granted Jermaine Gresham and the RBs the opportunity to catch more passes over the last few weeks. As the offense starts to rely on Andre Smith more as a pass protector, he keeps responding and his growth has been visible each week.

On the Flip side, Andre Smith hasn't been nearly as good as a run blocker as this team needs. While he is strong at the point of attack and when he gets his hands on the defender, he can really move them. Andre isn't very mobile and when he asked to block a LB, he usually can't get it done. Same with anytime Smith is asked to pull or get up field to make a block. Through six games, Andre has 27 Winning Block and 27 Losing blocks. For every Positive block he has, Smith has a negative block just around the corner. His run block ratio is the worst on the starting offensive line.

Run/Pass Blocking Grades

Andrew Whitworth

Run Blocking

Pass Blocking







Nate Livings









Kyle Cook







Bobbie Williams




18 (54*)

5 (15*)


6 (18*)

4 (12*)

Andre Smith











*Projected numbers if Williams played all 6 games


Full Back or two Tight Ends?

We've seen this team under Marvin Lewis employ a power running game lead by a full back that can open holes and we've seen this team try to use extra tight ends as their leading blockers. Success has generally come from the running game with the full back.

The results this year have been mixed. Chris Pressley was supposed to be that power FB this team missed over the past two seasons. At times, he has looked and played the part beautifully. Lately, the Bengals have used more single-back sets and it had me wondering if Pressley was getting his job done. I went through every offensive play to see how well Pressley and the tight ends have augmented this running attack.

Running plays with a FB

89 Attempts for 341 yards (3.8 ypc)

26 Carries for 1-yard or less

29 Carries for 5-yards or more

Running plays in a single-back set

53 Attempts for 187 yards (3.5 ypc)

16 Carries for 1-yard or less

15 Carries for 5-yards or more

Both seem to be similar. Obviously the Bengals still prefer to run with the FB leading the way. In single-back sets, the Bengals have a 28% chance of getting a run longer than 5-yards. With a FB leading the way, the Bengals have a 33% chance of gaining 5 or more yards. Not a big difference when looking at numbers, but in an offense that is struggling to find their running game and explosive runs, having Chris Pressley in the game may be the way to go.


Bernard Scott, inside and out

Bernard Scott is also another curious player. All of his best runs seem to be to the outside on pitches and sweeps. This would make him an ideal compliment to Cedric Benson. Yet Scott is only averaging 2.8 ypc on the season and some fans have wondered if the Bengals are running him up the middle too much. I went back to look at every Scott carry and charted each of his runs. Here's what I found.






5 carries for 2yards (0.4)

7 carries for 34 yards (4.9)

6 carries for 14 yards (2.3)

6 carries for 9 yards (1.5)

4 carries for 8 yards (2.0)

2 carries for 16 yards (8.0)

To me, this looks like Bernard Scott has struggled on most carries. It doesn't matter the direction. Where I did find success is on draw plays. Scott has 4-carries for 18-yards (4.5) on draw plays. You can't do draw plays all game, so Scott is going to have to elevate his game if the Bengals are going to increase his workload as the season progresses.


As always, feel free to ask me any questions or stats that you would like to know. I can look up or figure out almost anything for the Bengals offense. I have detailed notes on each offensive play this year.