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The Weekly Lineman: Winston and Johnson relieve starters; Sims gets his sack

Cedric Ogbuehi got benched and Russell Bodine got hurt, how did Eric Winston and T.J. Johnson fare as replacements?

Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

This week, nothing really stood out to my eyes looking back at the film from the Bengals’ loss to the Patriots. And after going defensive line heavy for the last two weeks, I wanted to focus in on the offensive line again. Fittingly, there were two lineman who made surprise extended appearances late in the game, so I decided to dive into their performances.

A benching and an injury

If Sunday’s game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the New England Patriots still can’t sway you to believe momentum in sports is real, there’s nothing else that can be done in that matter.

The turning point of the game was easily the safety the Bengals took midway through the third quarter that decreased the Bengals lead to 14-12, and then led to a 25-3 run for New England. The Bengals were down at their own six yard line on the play when the safety occurred, because right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi was called for holding on the previous play when they were on their own 16 yard line.

You know I’m not the world’s biggest believer in Ogbuehi, but I can tell you for a fact that he was wrongly penalized and then subsequently benched for backup tackle Eric Winston. Not that his play wasn’t bench-worthy for the majority of the game leading up to this (which it really was), but to pull him for a mistake he didn’t actually commit was indeed an unjust decision by the coaching staff.

First, let’s look at the broadcast angle:

He did nothing more than run the player he’s blocking past Dalton, which is a normal tactic if you’re late to edge and the end has a corner on you.

Here’s a closer look with the replay angle:

Here’s the second replay angle:

Finally we see some form of grabbing of the jersey by Ogbuehi, but the infraction has more context to it than just a grasp on another uniform. The flag should only be thrown when the grabbing prohibits the opposing player from moving away from the block. But as we can see, the end here, Rob Ninkovich, is already going down when the “holding” occurs.

Grabbing jerseys occurs on basically every down in the trenches, and holding could be called on every down because of it if a play like this gets called, but it doesn’t. It was very a ticky-tacky call by the officials that in a way, changed the course of the game. Regardless of the legitimacy of the penalty, Marvin Lewis or Paul Alexander pulled Ogbuehi from the game and put in Winston from then on.

Winston’s first snap wasn’t a promising one:

Number 93 for the Patriots, Jabaal Sheard is a very good edge rusher, and he beats Winston easily with a quick swim move to the inside. If Kevin Zeitler wasn’t there to deal with Sheard after holding his man in check, Shead has a path to Dalton. Whether Dalton gets rid of the ball is unimportant to this analysis because this is about Winston’s play alone.

Winston’s next snap was a bit better:

He shows he can sit down in his set after giving up some ground to a number 95 Chris Long, another very good edge rusher. I made sure the rest of the line was in the frame this time to show how Dalton’s pocket got destroyed. Bodine got pushed backwards, by a backwards rusher.

For the rest of the quarter, Winston’s protection wasn’t really relied upon with seven of the final nine plays directed towards the left side of the field and line. Five of the next six offensive plays for the Bengals were directed toward to the left side. However, Later in the third Quarter, Bodine tripped over a Patriots defensive lineman while engaged in a block and hurt his right leg, and did not return into the game. That left backup center T.J. Johnson to play the entire fourth quarter in his place.

Two backup offensive lineman in Winston and Johnson played the entire quarter quarter, Let’s see how both of them played together.

The good

The first time Dalton dropped back with these two manning the center and right tackle spots went pretty well, as Dalton connected with Tyler Boyd for 30 yards down the seams:

Johnson handles the looping end with some help from Zeitler and Winston manages his one-on-one with ease. The Patriots really spread out their pass rush here with five total rushers, and it ended up giving Dalton one of, if not the cleanest pocket, of his day.

The duo also provided some push on this seven yard run from Jeremy Hill:

Here you see two deuce blocks in action, which predictably means a double team block:

Johnson and Zeitler’s job is chip and peel inside to pick up the linebackers, and both do well in freeing up Hill some space to gain extra yardage. Johnson has the taller ladder to climb, if you will, to get to his linebacker, but did well all things considered.

The bad

Those we’re about the only good reps I saw from these two in the final quarter. This play is a good example of how much movement the line should normally make:

Johnson and Winston are just not very powerful players; Johnson let’s his man discard him after a second of engagement, and Winston generates no power downhill either. Left Guard Clint Boling is the true culprit for this failure as he loses his assignment first, but looking specifically at Johnson and Winston, they didn’t do very well either.

Johnson was also partially to blame for the Patriots’ second sack of the day

We’ve talked about tackle stunts before in this piece, well here’s the Patriots executing one to perfection. At first, Boling does the correct thing here, tossing his man to the A-gap and readying himself for the looper from the other side. But he let’s his man get too far inside for Johnson to handle him. The problem is, the looper was patient with his stunt so Johnson didn’t know there was a stunt in place, making him unprepared to handle Boling’s man, which led to the easy penetration and sack.

It was very smart of the Patriots to test a struggling Boling and an inexperienced Johnson with such a well timed play, and it took the Bengals off the field late in the game.

Ogbuehi will be back at right tackle this week against the Browns, but It’s uncertain right now if Bodine will be able to play. If not, T.J. Johnson will get the start in place of him in accordance to conventional wisdom, unless the team decides to completely mix up the line, which at this point, may yield some better results.

One move does it for Sims

Back in Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, we showcased Pat Sims getting pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with this move:

Four weeks later and Sims is still making his presence felt with the same basic move.

Here, as a run stopper:

And here, finally getting his first sack as a Bengal since the 2011 season:

Sims utilizes this violent club move so well for a couple of reasons, for starters, his force is just so great with his inside arm that he can alter the guard’s balance all together. And like we discussed back in Week 2, he sets it up by initially taking an outside angle to put the guard in an even worse position.

Every rusher needs a primary tool. Geno Atkins has his bull rush, and Sims has his club. Sims is usually good for a few splash plays per game, and you could make the argument that he has more of them than starting nose tackle Domata Peko so far this year. I don’t think Sims would be an obvious upgrade at the position, because he can disappear, like Peko, but it’s good to see him get increased opportunities as a pass rusher.

Thanks again for reading. I do read the comments, and I’m very grateful for the consistently positive recognition you guys give me. It’s not my objective to be revered, only to be truthful and objective. But to be praised by the people who take time to read this stuff is very, very cool. With that being said, feel free to discuss if you see something different. Sometimes I may misinterpret film, I’m only a cynical fan.