For a team that is essentially known for only having Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton on offense, you would expect a big win when you take Luck out of the equation. Jacoby Brissett has done an admirable job filling in as a replacement QB for them so far this season, and nearly pulled out a win if not for Carlos Dunlap’s game changing interception.
So how on earth could I find something nice to say about the Bengals offense this week? I did it, because there are a lot of nice plays by the offense in this game. The problem is that they’d string together a lot of nice plays and sputter out. Let’s go to the tape.
Winning the matchup battle
The Colts brought pressure against the Bengals, knowing their shambled offensive line wouldn’t be able to handle it. Thankfully, this offense is one that relies on getting rid of the ball quickly. If the Bengals can get a favorable matchup they can take advantage of this pressure, and that’s exactly what they do below.
The Colts show pressure early, and Dalton knows he’s got his inside man, Bradon LaFell, isolated against a linebacker. When the ball is snapped, Dalton waits for LaFell to get out of his break on the route and hits him in stride for an easy gain. Arguably, as you’ll see later, pressure against this Bengals offensive line is probably a bad idea. If you give Dalton a hot read in the middle of the field with a linebacker covering a receiver he’s going to be able to take advantage of it.
Mixon (almost) goes yard
Joe Mixon keeps finding ways to make a play or two despite not having much of any room generated by the offensive line. I think it’s clear at this point that the offensive line is so bad that no one is going to be able to produce in the running game. That said, it leaves the passing game open for some big plays, and Mixon made them pay through the air last week.
Mixon makes some great moves in traffic to get into some open space, but I was honestly surprised that he was caught from behind on the play. He was clocked at a 4.43 for his forty time during his pro day, so he certainly has the speed to get going.
Regardless, it’s a really nice big play for the rookie. The two missed tackles after the catch are a reflection of how good his vision is once the ball is in his hands. He give himself advantageous angles to work with, which diminishes what a defender can do to stop him. If he could learn to take better care of the football I think he’d be set.
Dalton shows poise under fire
Typically we’ve seen a lot of Andy Dalton running from pressure that really isn’t there, escaping the pocket to his own demise. But on the touchdown pass to Josh Malone he stands firm, takes the shot from the defender, and delivers as much of the throw as he can.
Because of the hit, Andy doesn’t get his full arm strength into this throw since he can’t step up, but Josh Malone makes a great adjustment to position himself for the ball and the touchdown. It’s a fact that Andy is going to get hit a lot this year. I don’t like it, you don’t like it, and as you could tell from some of the post-play views of Dalton - he doesn’t like it.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing this season that is going to fix those woes, so these are the types of throws he’ll have to make to be successful. This team becomes a lot better if Andy can get over being shellshocked from all the pressure he faces and stand in the pocket.
When you’re bad, you’re really bad
Earlier I said I would mention how bringing pressure against this Bengals defense is a bad idea. It might seem like a good idea to most - bring pressure, get to Dalton, and the offense stalls as a result. But the fact of the matter is Dalton wants to get the ball out quickly. He’s not going to string out plays to find a home run. If you can beat the Bengals with base pressure (which you can) and drop back more guys in coverage you can take away the quick throw.
Here the Colts bring two, yes only two, men to pressure the quarterback. And as a bonus one of them is Margus Hunt so they’re really only bringing one guy. The Bengals have six guys to stop a nosetackle and Margus Hunt from getting to Dalton. You can see Dalton pull back on his first option because it isn’t there, and then immediately be hit. TJ Johnson and Russel Bodine both do this look of “I thought you had him” as Andy is being Rock Bottom’d into the turf and it’s a perfect microcosm of what this season has been like.
But a win is a win, so we can now look forward to this unit trying to block a front four of some of the best defensive linemen in the league.