This past Sunday we saw a really weird game. Both the Bengals and Broncos offenses were nearly identical at the surface. The Bengals and the Broncos had nearly identical stats in first downs (20 vs 21), total net yards (332-355), plays (64-60), even punting (both teams had 5 for an identical 46.2 average). The Bengals even won the time of possession by more than four minutes. The difference really just came to field position and turnovers. So I really won’t say the Bengals offense played poorly this week, they just didn’t do enough to win. If you had asked me on Sunday if the Bengals would win if they outran Denver 143 to 52 yards, I would 100 percent had said yes. But the defensive game plan made a patient Trevor Siemian look like a real pro. However, I’m evaluating the offense, so let’s take a look at the tape.
Beginning with big gains
We’ll start things off from the very first drive, where we saw by far the best offensive play of the game. It’s second-and-two from the Bengals own 47 yard line. Ken Zampese dials up the Bengals patented counter trey, a look that they’ve run for years on end.
If you aren’t familiar with the counter trey I’ll break it down for you as much as I can. At the snap of the ball the running back (here Jeremy Hill) takes a counter step, hence the name counter trey. The quick jab to the right freezes the linebackers just for a second to let the blocking develop. The right guard and tackle (Kevin Zeitler and Cedric Ogbuehi) pull across the line while the rest of the guys down block, while leaving the outside man on the line of scrimmage free. This free man is then given a kickout block by Zeitler, and Ogbuehi is the lead blocker through the created hole. Hill closely follows Ogbuehi and bursts through the hole after a seal block on T.J. Ward. It ends up as a game of 50 and the Bengals scored one play later. Kudos on this and the next play to Jake Fisher for hustling his ass off. I love seeing a big guy not quit and keep running downfield.
Simple but effective
We’re going to keep it with the run game, something the Bengals were MUCH improved in this week. This isn’t anything spectacular, it’s just a gain of six, but this is the chunk yardage type of runs the Bengals need consistently to be effective on the ground.
Here’s a double tight end set where the team is running a simple zone run. We’ve got zone blocking to the weak side of the line, with Tyler Kroft and Andrew Whitworth sealing off the defensive end. Clint Boling gets a nice down block on the nose, Hill notices the block and make a great jump cut to run right behind where the center was lined up or what is sometimes called the 0 hole. He gets wrapped up fairly quickly when getting through the hole but the six yards the team does get is dependable. Consistent six yard runs will always result in a victory.
Not always set up for success
Here we’ll take a look at a play that didn’t go so well, because it’s set up by the look you just saw above. In the above clip there’s a misdirection with a wide receiver taking an end around behind the play. Here we’re going to look at the end around itself, which shows that you can’t always bank on setting up a play against a stout defense.
LaFell gets this end around (I have no clue why though) and although he has Ryan Hewitt run blocking for him, the entire defense isn’t fooled by the fake to Giovani Bernard. Denver’s linebackers do a nice job of keeping outside contain and allowing the inside of the defense to recover and make the stop for a two yard loss. Against a great defense like Denver, calling fringe plays like these that barely works can be a drive killer.
Andy threads the needle
Although the Bengals air attack didn’t have a very big day, this deep ball to C.J. Uzomah over the middle is a great example of just how accurate Andy Dalton is.
Here, the Bengals line up in an empty set with doubles to the left and trey on their right. Uzomah, lined up tight as the Y, is sent on a seam route and he’s the target the whole time. The slot men are running sticks to open of space and the outside men are taking outside releases deep to hold the safeties from closing on the middle. Dalton quickly looks off the safety with his eyes on the outside release before coming back to Uzomah and threading the needle between two defenders before they can close in on C.J. With Tyler Eifert soon returning we can expect more of those types of plays coming in the future.
Bad Andy makes a quick appearance
Down 12 points with not much time remaining, Dalton knew he needed to work the offense down quickly in order to keep the game alive. The problem though, was that he seemed a little too eager. The call is a dagger pattern on the left side of the Bengals line, with the slot man running a clearing route and the outside man running an in route. To the right we have the outside man running a go, and what is either an in or more likely an option route on the inside to Uzomah.
Here Dalton makes a read at the zone defender in front of Uzomah. He sees him beginning to over pursue and cross Uzomah’s face. Dalton, eager to work the ball down the field, takes the shot. The problem is that the defender recovers and is able to come back to the ball. He isn’t able to intercept it, but he tips the ball in the air and it allows the Broncos secondary to essentially seal the win with the turnover.
So some good, but not enough good. That said, the offense really didn’t do terribly. They ran the ball well, but the Broncos secondary and by extension the pass rush, did what they needed to do to slow down Dalton and crew. No such level of immense talent across the board is available on defense for Miami (though they have some great defensive lineman) so we should be looking at much better results this week. Who Dey!