The Bengals fourth game of the 2016 season resulted in a win that gave the Bengals a much needed confidence boost, evening up their record to 2-2 on the season. They absolutely controlled every aspect of the game, including time of possession, which the offense had for an incredible 38 minutes and two seconds, and the team had +2 turnover ratio.
Due to the overall dominance, a lot of players ended up with impressive grades from Pro Football Focus. Other than punching the ball into the endzone, the Bengals didn’t really struggle in any particularly noticeable areas. For the most part, every player did their job and helped the team put up an impressive 22-7 win. On offense, we saw some great performances from A.J. Green (89.0), Andrew Whitworth (80.2), Andy Dalton (79.6), Russell Bodine (75.6), and Clint Boling (72.9), before he went down with injury. It’s interesting that by the eye, we seem to think the offensive line is failing, but PFF seems to disagree.
On defense, the story was pretty much the same as Carlos Dunlap (89.0), Geno Atkins (86.1), Vincent Rey (85.3), Domata Peko (79.1), and Pat Sims (77.9) refused to give the Dolphins any chance of making a comeback.
It was a good night for quarterback Andy Dalton, who completed all four of his passes that went for at least 20 yards. Those passes accounted for 137 of the 296 yards that he threw for on the day. He finished the day with a QB rating of 118.8.
That said, it really helped to have a guy like A.J. Green to throw to, who led the team in overall grades this week (89.1). Green played four different spots as a wide receiver (lining up on the outside left side 31 times, outside right side 28 times, slot left 3 times, and slot right 2 times). He never gave any particular Dolphins player a chance to cover him as he was up against five different Dolphins players on his 10 receptions.
Dalton’s impressive performance came despite poor performances from certain members of the offensive line. To be fair, only Cedric Ogbuehi allowed a pressure on Dalton on his way to a poor pass blocking grade (56.1). That was due to the pressure as well as two quarterback hurries. But, both Jake Fisher (51.0) and Kevin Zeitler (59.7) were called for false starts and were particularly bad blocking for the run. Zeitler, in particular, was called for a false start twice, resulting in an extremely poor discipline grade (6.6).
The Dolphins’ defense did a good job of designing blitz packages to put pressure on Dalton. Despite the fact that only Ogbuehi allowed any pressures, Dalton was still pressured six times by Dolphins defenders due to the nature of their blitz packages. But, he was incredibly efficient under pressure, recording a quarterback rating of 104.2 on the six plays he was pressured and a 100.0 quarterback rating on the 11 plays he was blitzed.
The offensive line’s struggles to block for the run continue to plague the Bengals. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard typically preferred to run the ball to the left side of the field, toward their more experienced blockers (Clint Boling, Andrew Whitworth). However, they still didn’t accomplish much as they only recorded 22 yards on outside runs.
Carlos Dunlap was a man among boys on Thursday. He recorded five tackles, two sacks, two pass deflections, two tackles for loss, and one other quarterback hit on his way to an impressive overall grade (88.1). He also hurried the quarterback four times and stopped the run three times. In the process, he recorded an astoundingly high pass rush productivity of 23%. He’s playing so well this year, he hasn’t had a negatively graded game yet.
Much was made about the return of Vontaze Burfict from suspension this week, although he received a decidedly average grade for his efforts (66.2). He missed two tackles in the run game and ended up with a poor run defense grade (45.8).
His return was a bit bittersweet as it takes snaps away from Vincent Rey, who has been a stout defender this year. He has yet to grade poorly in pass coverage, not allowing any receptions in 13 coverage snaps against the Dolphins. He also batted a pass and recorded two tackles on the day to make up for Burfict’s ineffectiveness.
One of the biggest surprises of the night was the breakout performance of Will Clarke. He only played 19 snaps, but he recorded two tackles, a sack, a quarterback hit, two quarterback pressures, and contributed on a tackle for loss. He recorded a pass rush productivity grade of 14.6 which was only bested by Dunlap. He ended up with a very good overall grade (77.9). There’s an argument to be made that Clarke needs more playing time.
Many Bengals fans haven’t been happy with Darqueze Dennard this season. But, PFF thought highly of him this week. Filling in for the injured Dre Kirkpatrick, Dennard earned an overall grade of 72.3. Although he allowed Jarvis Landry to gain 24 yards on one reception in the fourth quarter, he only allowed 11 yards on four other receptions for a respectable 70.7 coverage grade. He was all over the field in the run game, making a team high 5 tackles, including two stops, on his way to a 80.9 grade in run defense.