Coming out of Week 1 of the 2016 preseason, the Bengals’ starters were looking to build off of an impressive first showing against the Vikings. They did just that, moving the ball at a methodical pace and for the most part doing what they wanted. We’ll break down just what worked for the Bengals on Thursday and who the key contributors were. At the same time, we’ll take a look at some busted plays and show just what went wrong. Let’s get to work.
Perspective on Tyler Boyd’s spectacular reception
The first notable play of the game for the Bengals had to be the diving catch by Tyler Boyd coming on a 3rd and 4 during the opening drive.
The play is a simple sprint out to the right sideline. A.J. Green and Boyd run a route combination with Green taking a quick out and Boyd running a corner route. Green’s route draws Darius Slay up to him while giving Boyd 1-on-1 coverage with his man. The line, along with Giovani Bernard, are in slide protection to the right. The play is blocked well, with no inside pressure, Bernard helps draw out the defensive end Devin Taylor, and Uzomah the tight end forces his rusher to take the outside route to the quarterback.
Boyd takes an inside release against his man, but doesn’t get a ton of separation off the line. The inside release forces the safety to wait inside to respect a crossing or post pattern from Boyd. When he makes his break the defender is in good position, but Dalton does an excellent job placing the ball over and to Boyd’s free shoulder. This allows Boyd to make a wonderful diving catch and prevent the defense from having any chance of a play on the ball. Quandre Diggs gets called for holding here, but Boyd is still able to get the 26 yards.
Power running 101
The next play to look at is the first successful run for Jeremy Hill of the day. It shows just what the offensive line is capable of, even without all of their regular pieces.
What’s really nice about this play is that it isn’t anything special, but it does feature everyone on the offense doing their job. The play is just a simple Iso run with Hill following Ryan Hewitt to the 4 hole before Hill takes a nice jump cut to an opening on the left side of the line. Detroit’s strongside linebacker Kyle Van Noy (#53) pursues too much up field, allowing Uzomah to block him out. Detroit’s other linebackers key on Hewitt going to the 4 hole so they pursue to that direction. Then Andrew Whitworth completes the play by blowing his man off the line, allowing Hill to pick up 8 yards before being met by the safety.
Scheming for yards
The very next play there’s some nice scheming and what I believe is a pre-snap read by Andy Dalton.
The Bengals start the play with a trips left formation. Darius Slay is pressed to the line covering Brandon Tate in the slot, indicating man to man press coverage. Dalton sends Tate across the line in motion and Slay rolls his coverage back five yards indicating zone or off man. At the snap, Dalton has two options: he can hand the ball off to Bernard or he can throw it to Tate on a stop route/smoke screen. Because Slay is off he opts to throw to Tate who is able to get more than enough yardage when Slay slips trying to come up and make a play. It results in an easy 14 yards.
Power running 102
Following the Tate catch is this great run by Hill, who again gets a lot of help from his offensive line.
The play is simple, much like the previous play. But that doesn’t matter because this is executed to perfection. This is a simple zone run look, but this is no read play despite Dalton showing the keep. Immediately after getting the ball, Hill already has a lane to the endzone. This starts with a nice combo by Russell Bodine and Clint Boling. The two of them double team the 1-technique nose tackle in their shared gap, with Kevin Zeitler sliding down to take an angle on the blitzing linebacker. After the nose tackle is secure, Boling scrapes off his block to the second level and picks up the free linebacker. Whitworth blocks out the defensive end and all that’s left is for Hill to split some defensive backs for six points.
However it wasn’t all perfect last week. Here’s a shining example of that.
Blown up in the backfield
Bengals fans across the globe gripe about Bodine, and this is a shining example of why. Haloti Ngata simply bullrushes his way into the backfield and Bodine is helpless as a result. At the snap of the ball, the offensive line is trying to stretch everything out to the left, but Bodine’s first step is straight up instead of forward. Despite how strong Bodine might be, he’s not going to out muscle a veteran like Ngata with terrible leverage. Once he’s in this position he’s essentially at the will of the defender and Bodine does the only thing he can do, which is fall on Ngata. By the time he’s able to do so, he’s five yards in the backfield, Bernard is tripping over him, and the play is completely blown up. What a disaster.
Ending on a good note
I can’t end things on a horrible play like that, so we’ll take a look at one more, a run play on the last drive with Andy Dalton in the game.
This is a simple inside zone run that’s made possible by some good drive blocking, and a bad read on defense. Dalton hands off to Rex Burkhead who takes it to the 1 hole in between Bodine and Boling. The left side of the line does a great job of blowing things down while Kyle Van Noy takes a bad read step to the left at the snap of the ball. By the time Van Noy realizes where the ball is going, Bodine has already scraped off to the next level and is waiting for a linebacker. While Bodine isn’t able to completely seal him off, he’s able to give him a shove downfield that buys Burkhead another six or seven yards before he’s brought down by a safety.
There were some positives and some negatives for the Bengals’ offense in Week 2 of the Preseason, but it was a largely positive game for the offense. Despite the injuries they’ve encountered, the Bengals haven’t been showing signs of slowing down as unit, and should only continue to get better as guys return off the shelf.