The Bengals suffered one of their more soul-crushing losses in recent history yesterday. They also suffered quite a few injuries, which opened up a ton of opportunity for bench players. Let’s examine which players got more playing time than they probably deserved.
Here are this week’s snap count takeaways:
- This is the obligatory update of the Bengals getting out snapped by their opponent. The Bengals had 61 snaps while the Steelers had 73. The two teams were close at halftime in this respect, but Cincinnati failed to maintain drives as well in the second half.
- The receiver position was the one that caught the most flack on Sunday. John Ross wasn’t able to go with a groin injury. Alex Erickson (46) played a vast majority of the third receiver snaps. He still only ended up with two catches for eight yards. That was so much better than Cody Core though. Core had three targets, and two ended up being pretty crucial drops. What’s weird is Core only played nine snaps. That is way too high of a target-to-snap ratio for Core. Josh Malone (four) played less than Core, and at this point you have to question why that was. Is Malone worse than Core? If only the Bengals had another option that they could activate when Ross can’t go... (Before you comment, I’m talking about Auden Tate. I think Auden Tate should be active over Core).
- Okay lets jump into the mess that was the snap distribution in the secondary. We’re going to start with the safeties. Jessie Bates played the most snaps of any defender with 69. He missed four plays while being checked for a concussion, but he came back in and ended up making the stop that led to the Bengals goal line stand that kept them in the game. Shawn Williams (42) left the game twice to be checked for a concussion and the second time he left they kept him out for good. This opened up the door for Clayton Fejedelem (33) to play. We even saw a glimpse of Brandon Wilson at safety for two plays.
- The cornerback position was far more fluid. William Jackson was questionable coming into the day, but he ended up playing the most snaps of any corner with 64. Dre Kirkpatrick wasn’t far behind with 63 plays though. Darqueze Dennard left the game with a shoulder injury after only playing 12 plays. Tony McRae filled in with 20 snaps, and rookie corner back Darius Phillips played four plays. Phillips even made the stop and forced the fumble that held Pittsburgh to their second field goal in the fourth quarter.
- It appears the Bengals are over the Hardy Nickerson Jr. experiment as he only played five snaps despite Nick Vigil (13) getting knocked out of the game early. Instead it was Vincent Rey who replaced Vigil with 47 snaps. He was just ahead of Preston Brown (45). Vontaze Burfict played 61 snaps, which was the most of any linebacker, and Jordan Evans kicked in 23 snaps as well. The Linebackers got plenty of run as the Steelers often went with a two-tight end set.
- Carlos Dunlap (50) and Geno Atkins (54) led the defensive line in snaps. Surprisingly (or maybe not), Michael Johnson was right behind them with 45 snaps. This was significantly more than Carl Lawson (22), Jordan Willis (27) and Sam Hubbard (26). It seems like the Bengals chose to go with experience there, but no one really helped get pressure that much on Sunday anyway. However, having Johnson out there for 45 plays isn’t going to help that.
- Joe Mixon played 42 snaps on Sunday. I’m not stating this to say he should’ve played more because there is a decent chance the team and/or Mixon weren’t trying to push the running back too much. The issue is Mark Walton’s 19 snaps and the fact he didn’t do anything of note with them. He had two carries for negative two yards on the day. It seems like if Cincinnati was going to rotate Mixon against the Steelers that they shouldn’t have been so quick to part with a running back like Thomas Rawls. You could probably make an argument that you give those 19 snaps to Rawls he gives you more than negative two yards. This performance just makes the Bengals pick of Walton that much more confusing. He is still a rookie though, but this is something he needs to learn from.
The Bengals snap counts vs the Steelers
|#||POS.||NAME||Snaps||Percentage of snaps|
|#||POS.||NAME||Snaps||Percentage of snaps|
|56||LB||Hardy Nickerson Jr.||5||7|
|30||S||Jessie Bates III||69||95|