Going back to Week 17 of last season, there have been four bodies that have manned the Cincinnati Bengals right guard spot. Three of them were on the field on Sunday, with one of them in the other uniform.
Kevin Zeitler, now of the Cleveland Browns, played his first game across the Bengals defensive line since leaving the team this past free agency. Zeitler was one of the most consistent offensive players on the Bengals for the previous five seasons as everyone is well aware of.
Ever since his departure, the right guard spot has been a position of inconsistency and injury. Opening day starter Trey Hopkins didn’t finish his first start due to a knee injury that’s sidelined him ever since, though he’s expected to return this week.
His replacement, backup T.J. Johnson, has been expectedly underwhelming at the spot since taking over. Johnson was retained this offseason on a two-year deal, but was always viewed as a backup first.
Midway through Sunday’s game, Johnson left the field for a drive right after A.J. Green’s touchdown. In his place came the second year undrafted Alex Redmond, who was brought into a game where the offense already went through two different sets of offensive tackles up to that point. Redmond was fine for the first handful of plays of the drive, then this went down:
Some have asked me whose fault this was and I can’t definitively say. What I can tell you is what I know. Redmond has been on the field for five snaps; he wasn’t a sudden substitution at that point, everyone should’ve known he was out there.
Redmond is being engaged, and he engages back, but doesn’t try to mirror him, he, in turn, thinks he’s passing him off to Bodine inside and looking out to see if Jake Fisher needs help with the edge.
This is where I’m looking for Bodine to have some awareness. It’s entirely possible that this is just two teammates who were thinking of opposite things, and frankly, that’s the most likely possibility, but someone assigns the protections.
When Redmond has his guy on his inside shoulder, Bodine is already looking to his left to help out Boling, who’s got much better positioning on his man. My question is why look to help the seventh year vet and not the guy who’s literally playing his sixth career snap. Something to think about.
Redmond was pulled a play later, and Johnson went back in the game, but suffered a neck injury that would sideline him for good on Sunday. Redmond came back in and finished the game, and was okay, albeit, the Browns were well out of the game at this point. Though he and Bodine had some more issues playing side by side:
This is hardly an exaggeration, Bodine and Redmond is the last duo you want trying to reach block the nose tackle and reach the MIKE backer in the second level on an outside zone stretch.
The Bengals really, really seem to want to run zone out of the I formation with Joe Mixon, and this is not the personnel on the inside to do it with. Neither are quick enough out of their stance and flexible at the ankles to establish any leverage through the block to generate any movement, and that’s how you end up with penetration that leads to tackles for loss like these.
Conversely, down blocks in power runs are something Redmond is capable of doing, and can get some push as you see here. In both instances, Redmond takes his assignment for a little ride and finishes him out of the play, displaying a finisher’s mentality.
It was refreshing seeing someone new on the interior part of the line for a change, since the team is still not sold on putting 2016 fifth-round pick Christian Westerman out on the field for whatever reason, Redmond got the first chance.
In the Zeitler revenge game, Geno Atkins won the first battle:
No one on the Browns offensive line knows Atkins more than Zeitler. He’s practiced against him for five years, has watched his dominance from the sidelines all that time, and is a very good player in his own right.
Geno just does what he does to every other guard he goes up against, he gets under his pads, and swims past him. Luckily for Zeitler, he didn’t go up against Zeitler that much. Though Michael Johnson did get some penetration on him later on:
That was about it for Johnson’s success, as Zeitler locked down in pass pro for the rest of the game against Johnson and Glasgow notably:
The Bengals defense locked down the Browns offense for all the game, but Zeitler still looked like Zeitler. He still looked stout in pass pro and got push in the ground game. If you were wondering if the Browns were getting their money’s worth so far, I’d say they have.
The Bills are up next, who possess talented edge rushers in Jerry Hughes and Lorenzo Alexander, so the Bengals tackle rotation should be under more pressure to succeed as they try to climb their way back to .500.