After screwing up one of his only routes that took him more than 10 yards down the field last week, John Ross was a healthy inactive Sunday against the Broncos. But at the end of the day, the Bengals ended up three points better than the Broncos despite losing the offensive yardage battle by 151 yards. And other rookies made an impact on the win, so let’s see how they did in this week’s Bengals rookie report.
- Joe Mixon 35 snaps on offense
- Jordan Willis 18 snaps on defense
- Carl Lawson 31 snaps on defense
- Josh Malone 18 snaps on offense
- Ryan Glasgow 32 snaps on defense
- Brian Hill 0 snaps on offense
- Jordan Evans 10 snaps on defense
- Brandon Wilson 0 snaps on defense
- Cethan Carter 0 snaps on offense
- Hardy Nickerson 3 snaps on defense
- John Ross
- Josh Tupou
Life didn’t get any easier for the Bengals’ lead back against the first-ranked run defense by football outsiders DVOA metrics. Mixon finished the game with 49 yards on 20 carries, with more carries that went for negative yards than over five yards. He also caught two passes, but finished with zero receiving yards. Since last week against the Titans, he now has three catches for just three yards on five targets.
Mixon was inches away from finding the end-zone for the third week in a row, but was stopped twice on the goal-line in the subsequent plays that followed cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick’s near pick-6:
His 22 touches this game were a season high, but his yards per touch of 2.22 was his lowest since Week 1 against Baltimore.
Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson
Neither one of these two can be found in the game’s box score, but each of them had at least one hit on Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler. Though Willis’ was of slightly less quality:
The Broncos’ offensive line slid their protection to the left to account for blitzers and to protect the side of the formation of where the ball was supposed to go quickly after the snap. Willis is the lone rusher the Broncos leave unaccounted for and he’s a couple steps away from Osweiler by the time the ball is released, but this is his first hit on a quarterback since Week 5. Something’s better than nothing.
Lawson was inches away from his sixth sack of the season, but it was Vontaze Burfict who got their first:
The Bengals showed seven rushing and ended up bringing five. The Broncos actually handled this well when it came to the four defensive lineman, but it’s running back Devonte Booker who can’t quite pick up Burfict on his blitz, which broke up the whole pocket. With Geno Atkins coming right behind him, Osweiler is forced to abandon to his left, where Lawson just worked off his block and meets Osweiler with Burfict.
Later in the game, Lawson was at the center of disruption that took the Broncos off the field:
Working around the edge against first-round rookie starting left tackle Garrett Bolles, Lawson never let Bolles impede his rush and forced Osweiler to try and squeeze an over the middle toss into a window that was quickly closed by Kirkpatrick.
Lawson was also called for offside and neutral zone infraction penalties on the Broncos’ final drive of the first half. These were the fourth and fifth penalties of these types this year. He finished the game with 31 snaps on defense to Willis’ 18.
After playing the majority of the offense’s snaps the past two weeks, Malone took a seat behind Tyler Boyd as the second year starter returned to his spot as the team’s slot receiver in 11 personnel. Malone was on the field first and received credit for the start, but as the game went on, Boyd was slowly integrated into the offense more while the opposite was happening with Malone. The rookie finished with 18 snaps on offense, but no targets came his way.
After recording his second tackle of the game in the third quarter, Glasgow went down with an undisclosed injury and the team never announced what the injury was. This was the play:
Whatever it was, it wasn’t too serious as Glasgow returned to the game shortly after that quarter. Later in the fourth quarter, he made his second, and most impressive, run stuff of the game for his third tackle:
With Pat Sims waived and gone, it’s just Glasgow and Josh Tupou as the only true defensiive tackles behind Geno Atkins and Andrew Billings, and with Tupou inactive for this game and presumably for future games, Glasgow’s continued durability will be relied on more and more.
As Kevin Minter was sidelined for the fourth week in a row, Vincent Rey remained among the starting three linebackers. When he went down with a hamstring injury of his own near halftime, Evans was inserted as the middle linebacker for 10 snaps on defense. Late in the game, he recorded the first tackle for loss of his career:
Before the game, the team made Burfict’s switch back from MIKE to WILL linebacker official, which put Rey at MIKE for this game. At this point in his career, Rey is nothing more than a stopgap solution at the position, and it would’ve been refreshing to see Evans get the opportunity to play over Rey instead of being forced into the game because of Rey’s injury. With both Minter and now Rey’s status for Cleveland up in the air, Evans should be preparing to play a lot more.
Hardy Nickerson, Cethan Carter, Brandon Wilson and Brian Hill
With the linebacking corps thinned, Nickerson found the field three times on defense, and was targeted on this schemed-open swing pass to Booker:
Nickerson, Carter and Wilson all were top-five on the team in special teams snaps, and Wilson recorded his first tackle on the punt team as a gunner. Hill was given nine special teams snaps himself in his first game as a Bengals player.
As current nine point favorites over the winless Cleveland Browns, the Bengals have their first opportunity to go on a winning streak since the last time they played the Browns after Week 4. Since that game, the Browns have two new offensive tackles, both of whom are worse than their predecessors. We could see not only Lawson continue his sack-every-other-week streak, but also Willis get his first sack since early October.