The Cincinnati Bengals are riding a winning streak folks, and the rookies made things happen. Here’s our rookie report for the Bengals’ 20-16 win over the Buffalo Bills.
It took a month, but the Bengals’ lead back finally found the end zone for the first time:
One play after a 47 yard A.J. Green catch and run, Mixon bounces an iso run outside and gave the Bengals the lead that they would eventually hold onto for the remainder of the game.
That five yard rush was Mixon’s fourth longest of the game, however, and one of only five rushes that went for at least four yards. He finished the game with 15 carries and 51 yards (3.4 average) with that touchdown.
Mixon only had two rushes go for a loss (each were a loss of one yard) compared to nine from the previous two weeks, but the eight rushes that gain 0-3 yards are a continuance of a persisting problem for the Bengals offense. The Bengals are still trying to use Mixon out of the I-Formation while going up against seven and eight-man boxes, and it’s still not working.
What’s more concerning to me is that Mixon should be the key to beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in two weeks. In the Steelers two losses this year, they’ve allowed a combined 453 rushing yards on 6.04 yards per carry, with the leading rushers averaging 6.29 yards per carry.
These are egregious numbers, and shows the Steelers are vulnerable to a competent rushing attack. In the Steelers three wins however, they give up an average 3.83 yards per carry. If the Bengals are to emerge victorious for the third game in a row, Joe Mixon needs to have a big day. And if he’s to have a big day, the offensive line has to play like they just have never played before.
Before Mixon scored his first career touchdown, Willis tapped a scrambling Tyrod Taylor to the ground and recorded his first career sack:
Willis has taken a backseat in terms of playing time to fellow rookie Carl Lawson, as he’s seen 127 defensive snaps compared to Lawson’s 160, and he’s not seen as many 3rd downs or pass rushing opportunities, which has hindered his pass rushing production as a whole.
After all, he has been primarily giving Carlos Dunlap breaks at left defensive end, who has taken 80% of the snaps on defense. Willis’s role has been predictably limited, but he did get his first sack 11 games quicker than Margus Hunt and 13 games quicker than Will Clarke, so there’s that.
Something we rarely get to see from the Bengals is a young player making up for a mistake. But that’s exactly what we saw in the fourth quarter from Carl Lawson.
This sack from Vontaze Burfict should’ve forced the Bills to punt, instead, Lawson piles onto an already sacked Taylor, and like it or not, it’s considered a personal foul. But, good players come back from mistakes, rookies and vets alike. Three plays later, Lawson, gets his third and a half sack of the year:
The Bengals winning more means Lawson’s potential defensive rookie of the year prospects increase. Through five weeks, Lawson leads all rookies in sacks and all of them have been of high quality as well. All of them have also come against backups as well, which is needed context. Nevertheless, the start of Lawson’s career so far has been very impressive and has been one of the main reasons why the Bengals defense has been so imposing thus far.
Slowly but steadily, Glasgow has looked more and more like he’s belonged. He still doesn’t give much as a pass rusher, but he’s holding his own at the line of scrimmage and maintaining gap discipline at the 3-technique spot.
His snap percentage has still hovered around 30% all year, and was at exactly 30% on Sunday as he played 21 snaps. I think this is what we can expect for the rest of the year from him.
Jordan Evans and Cethan Carter
Evans never saw the field at linebacker, and hasn’t since week 1, but he’s 4th on the team in special teams snaps. Carter’s usage was more needed as he was one of the two tight ends active for the game. He was on the field for a season high 16 snaps, and was actually targeted downfield for once. He’d probably like it back right about now:
Flashbacks to Daniel Coats man.
The Bengals enter the bye week, and next week we’ll go over the rookie’s best moments over the first five weeks.