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Week 14 Rookie Report: Jordan Evans struggles, Brian Hill debuts in blowout loss

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Jordan Evans and Ryan Glasgow were a part of a defensive performance they’ll likely want to forget.

Chicago Bears v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Nine rookies played 198 total offensive and defensive snaps on Sunday against the Chicago Bears, which is tied the most snaps the rookie class has played all year on both sides of the ball. It was a wake up call for most playing significant snaps in such an embarrassing loss, and we’ll go over it all in this week’s rookie report.

Active:

  • Jordan Willis 33 snaps on defense; five snaps on special teams
  • Carl Lawson 19 snaps on defense; 13 snaps on special teams
  • Josh Malone 26 snaps on offense
  • Ryan Glasgow 40 snaps on defense; 14 snaps on special teams
  • Jordan Evans 68 snaps on defense; 18 snaps on special teams
  • Brian Hill seven snaps on offense; 17 snaps on special teams
  • Hardy Nickerson 5 snaps on defense; 17 snaps on special teams
  • Cethan Carter 17 snaps on special teams
  • Brandon Wilson 2 snaps on special teams

Inactive:

  • Joe Mixon
  • Joshua Tupou

Jordan Evans

Evans didn’t notch an official “start,” but having played 89% of the defense’s snaps he may as well have. Evans was in Nick Vigil’s usual spot at SAM linebacker when the Bengals were in 4-3 alignment, but linebackers Kevin Minter and Vincent Rey were on the field first in their nickel package.

Evans was graded the fifth-worst (or 65th best) linebacker per Pro Football Focus this week, which on the surface, is horrendous. Rey and Minter were two of the four others with lower weekly grades, as it was a rough day for the banged-up second level of the Bengals defense.

For Evans specifically, for every run play where he maintained gap discipline and stayed true to his fit, he was washed out and vacated his gap for a big gain for the Bears. He wasn’t as bad as advertised, but his inconsistencies in run defense and zone coverage were amongst the biggest issues the Bengals had all game.

If there’s a positive to take away from his outing, it’s that he’s making these mistakes now and not in a few years when he could be expected to start with no prior experience. He finished the game with nine solo tackles, which led the team.

Ryan Glasgow

While he was active, starting defensive tackle Geno Atkins only played 16% of the defensive snaps, which put much more responsibility on Glasgow’s shoulders, who played a season high 53% of the defense’s snaps. Out of all games where any pass rushing presence would be welcomed from Glasgow, this would’ve been the one.

Unfortunately, the entire pass rush of the Bengals defense was essentially nullified outside of a few instances from Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap. Glasgow was handled in pass protection and for the most part, washed out in run defense.

Chicago, as they’ve done all year, attacked horizontally with a lot of wide zone runs and countered with bootleg play action passes. Glasgow had difficulties crossing the face of the Bears offensive linemen on zone runs, and as usual, had troubles getting penetration on standard drop back passing plays.

But, his effort never wavered, and managed to record a run stop early in the fourth quarter.

Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson

Similar to last week, Lawson saw more of the sidelines than he was getting accustomed to. With the level of dominance the Bears were having running the ball, the Bengals defense was in fail safe mode for nearly the entire game trying to stop it, putting Lawson and his pass rushing prowess to the side. Lawson never really got home on 3rd downs as a pass rusher, as left tackle Charles Leno won nearly all the reps they had against each other.

Willis saw his snap count jump from three to 33 from last week to this week, as he gave Carlos Dunlap breathers at left defensive end. He didn’t make much of an impact as for, himself Evans, Glasgow, Lawson and the rest of the Bengals defense, it was a day to forget.

Josh Malone

Out-snapped by Tyler Boyd for the first time since Week 11 against Denver, Malone split time with Boyd in 11 personnel (three wide receiver sets) but was only targeted once in the 17 routes he ran. It was a dreadful day for the entirety of the Bengals passing offense as neither Andy Dalton or AJ McCarron found much success against the Bears pass defense.

The Rest

Brian Hill, Hardy Nickerson, Cethan Carter, Brandon Wilson

As the only other running back dressed for action, Hill saw his first snaps and touches in the NFL. He carried the ball twice for eight yards and caught a two-yard pass out of the backfield as the final play of the game. Nickerson saw some garbage time snaps at middle linebacker, and Wilson, despite the thin depth in the secondary, never saw the field on defense.

Coming up

Joe Mixon is still in the concussion protocol so for the time being, Hill is still second in command to Bernard. And Evans still figures to be in line for significant playing time with both Vontaze Burfict also in the concussion protocol and Vigil on injured reserve. Expect similar playing time for all rookies against the Minnesota Vikings this week.