The third preseason game is always the most extended look at the first team units before Week 1 of the regular season. As such, it was paramount that Dalton and the rest of the Bengals offense looked good. It’s safe to say that they more than delivered, putting in two solid quarters of work to take a 14-3 lead going into the second half. I’ll show just exactly what went right and what went wrong in Week 3 of the preseason as the Bengals prepare for a short turnaround before facing Indy at home.
Slick screens lead to six points
We’re going to start on the Bengals’ opening drive, with a third down situation at the Jags’ 19 yard line. This is a fairly standard empty formation. We have trips to the right with three receivers, and C.J. Uzomah and Giovani Bernard split left. What you don’t see is Dalton read the defense pre-snap and audible to this beautiful screen.
Dalton correctly predicted the all out blitz that the defense shows. The screen is the obvious check considering there’s single coverage across the board and all the defensive backs are five or more yards off the line. Bernard does a nice stutter step, coming forward first to make the defender backpedal before coming back to the ball. Uzomah peels back to take out the corner on Bernard, and guard Clint Boling leaves the line to take Uzomah’s man, effectively pounding him into dust. This is really nice stuff from Zampese, as I’ve never seen an offensive guard used this way to block a screen. As you can see, the Jaguars aren’t prepared as Bernard walks in for an easy touchdown.
You get a screen, and you get screen!
We continue with ScreenFest 2016 with a nice tailback screen to Jeremy Hill.
You might not be prepared for what I’m about to say, so you may want to sit down for this. This play happened because of and ONLY because of Russell Bodine, who actually played a very nice game Sunday night. The play starts on a play-action fake to Hill up the gut. The receiver clear out by running dashes down the field, and the offensive line sets up the screen for Hill. You’ll see big 61 right at the numbers of the 50 yard line take out not one, but two defenders in order to spring Hill for 28 yards. Does it look a bit ugly? Yes, but screens very rarely end with linemen getting square blocks on defenders. They’re big and we’re slow so as a rule they’re just trying to get in your way more than anything. A+ effort by Bodine here.
With the good, comes the bad
It can’t all be positive, as there’s always places that you can get better week to week. No one has ever seen a perfect game of football in their life and no one ever will. For this week, this is my mistake of the game.
This play was on third and 20, maybe five yards or so outside of field goal range. It’s unlikely the Bengals would be able to pick up 20 here, but a nice chunk would put them in prime position for a field goal attempt. However, that was not to be. Kevin Zeitler and Eric Winston face a stunt from Jared Odrick and Dante Fowler Jr. Fowler is able to drive Winston back while pushing inside. Seeing this inside push, Odrick works his way outside. Typically you would see linemen try to pass off defenders and slide the protection to pick this up. Unfortunately Winston is too far behind Zeitler to do this and Zeitler is essentially stuck and has no way to fight Odrick from taking the outside route. This may go down as a Zeitler allowed sack, but make no mistake this is the fault of Winston giving too much ground.
Ground and pound
On the Bengals next possession, the offensive line was able to put in some serious work.
Little things in football matter, like the slight shift from Bernard here. Starting as a sidecar to the right of Dalton he gives an impression that he will be running (most likely) to the offense’s left/defense’s right. Thus, the defensive line can shift and prepare for such a run. By moving to the other side just before the snap, it throws off some pre-snap adjustments by the defense. From the snap, you see the red sea essentially part into two. The play is a power run, but with a center pull instead of the usual guard. Bernard is following Bodine, and will run right behind his butt, wherever that may be. Zeitler does such a good job of angling down on the defensive tackle that Bodine has to cut his pull inside, and is able to seal off Paul Posluszny for a great gain of 8.
Similar events happen on the next play.
This is a good example of plays no going perfect, but being able to adapt on the fly. This double pull power play is a staple of the Bengals offense. It’s similar to what you would see in a counter trey, just without the counter. Both guards are pulling here. Zeitler is the playside guard so his job is to kick out the end man at the line of scrimmage which is number 37 Johnathan Cyprian. Boling’s job is to read Zeitler’s block and lead inside for Bernard. Bernard is just following Boling and hitting the first hole he sees. Unfortunately, Eric Winston gets beat badly from the get go which forces Boling to take a deeper pull step and almost blows up the play. However Boling is able to keep moving and Bernard patiently waits for him, a sign of a veteran running back, and is able to spring for 11 yards. I love this play, because it’s a great microcosm that represents the NFL and football as a whole.
Cool under pressure
Our last gif of the day comes on a fourth-and-five the Bengals faced on the same drive.
You can see immediately Dalton sees the Jaguars’ defense crowding the line and he knows exactly what coverage they’re in. They’re bringing overload pressure to the left side of the offensive line with man coverage throughout. This is evidenced also by the safety on the right of the screen lining over a receiver. This almost always dictates a man coverage. Dalton audibles and hits Tyler Boyd on an easy stick route for the first down. The Jaguars never had a chance as Posluszny was too far away from Boyd to ever have a hope of making a play. Can I just say it might be a bad idea to pressure one of the NFL’s best QBs against the blitz on a fourth down?
There’s your preseason Week 3 breakdown on offense. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe learned something in the process. One game to go before the regular season! Who Dey!