In a game where the Bengals played eight rookies for the second consecutive week, it was the two star rookies for the Ravens, one drafted 32nd overall, and one undrafted, who stole the show. Quarterback Lamar Jackson and running back Gus Edwards combined for 232 yards on 41 attempts against the Bengals (still) struggling defense. The duo ran over Marvin Lewis’ defense, and there was little Cincinnati could do to stop it.
The rookies for the Bengals played alright for their own sake, here’s our report for all eight of them.
Outside of a couple scrambles from Andy Dalton, the Bengals running game was nonexistent. Price’s work in a vacuum was alright but the work from Alex Redmond and Cordy Glenn really brought down the whole group. Price had his mistakes, but not at the extent of those two.
Price’s troubles were more centered around pass protection. This was his worst game this season protecting Dalton as both Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams got penetration up the middle against the rookie center, occasionally on crucial downs. He’s been solid there for the three games he’s played prior, so hopefully it’s not a trend that continues.
Jessie Bates III
Some will say the Ravens ran a high school offense against the Bengals defense and got away with it. If that’s the route you want to take with that to help the grieving process, all the power to you. Regardless, Jackson didn’t push the ball down the field very much because he didn’t have to. Sounds like a winning game plan to me.
In the process, Bates didn’t have much work when in deep coverage. The only pass he was technically in coverage for was on a crucial third down for the Ravens in the fourth quarter.
value of a qb who can extend plays and create through chaos.— john sheeran (@John__Sheeran) November 20, 2018
lamar holds bates when eyeing that 9 route on the left. pocker collapses and lamar escapes with his head up.
by now, andrews is going to be bates to where the throw is going to be: right on the money. pic.twitter.com/WOeugVEWz8
As he usually is, Bates was extra busy as a downhill tackler because of the Ravens’ extreme emphasis in the running game, including a healthy dose of the read option. Only one of Bates’ seven solo tackles were considered stops, and it happened just before the Ravens’ first score of the day.
Bates continues to not be the problem for the Bengals’ defense, but he can’t carry it on his own. He should face a much difference offense led by another rookie quarterback next week in Baker Mayfield for the Browns.
While his former Ohio State teammate had his worst game in pass protection, Hubbard had his most productive game as a pass rusher. He got his third sack of the season when he got the chance to go one-on-one against tight end Nick Boyle in the second quarter.
Most of Hubbard’s snaps came on the edge, which continues the trend from the defense’s first full game without Carl Lawson. Hubbard’s activeness in the passing game was attributed to the fact that he also once again played more against the run than the pass. Aside from the sack, Hubbard pressured the pocket a few times and made Jackson create on his own.
In a game where not only Hardy Nickerson got the start and the green dot on his helmet that gave him communication with Lewis from the sideline, Jefferson watched from the sideline as the Bengals allowed 265 rushing yards. It’s tough to reiterate the sheer neglect of Jefferson from this desperate defense, but the Bengals are no strangers to hiding rookies who aren’t ready to play, even if the players in front of them are not good at football.
On special teams, Jefferson had two tackles and a penalty.
For the first time since Week 2, Walton didn’t appear on the field with the offense for the entire game. Giovani Bernard’s full return to the Bengals offense has relegated Walton back to the bench as a full-time special teamer, as he registered his season-high 19 snaps on special teams.
Speaking of special teams, Phillips also notched his season high for special teams snaps with 12 as Darqueze Dennard returned to his spot at nickel cornerback. Phillips took a back seat on the defense and Dennard looked solid in his return. We won’t see much of Phillips from here on out unless Dennard suffers another unfortunate injury in his contract year.
Cody Core:Auden Tate::Hardy Nickerson:Malik Jefferson is as fitting of an analogy as any. While Core got a lot of snaps and ended up doing less than nothing with them, Tate was on the field officially for just one play, where he caught a pass just shy of the first down on the Bengals’ first drive.
According to Lewis, Tate didn’t gain enough depth on this route and that’s why the play resulted in a fourth-and-one.
“He’s a young player, he’s got some ability. Hopefully he’ll make some plays if he continues to get an opportunity down the stretch.” Lewis said during his press conference on Monday. “...His involvement in the offense is what it is. This is a guy who has been on the practice squad for a reason. He’s been a free agent for all 32 to take a look at. You see what I’m saying? It is what it is. You’re not many times going to take a guy off the practice squad and win an NFL game with them.”
Not the most resounding praise ever, that’s for sure.
Tate was actually in Core’s spot on the final fourth-and-three before the Bengals called timeout. Tate was replaced by Core, Core gets the ball thrown his way... we know what happened next. Why Tate was pulled off the field, we don’t know. But we’d like to think Tate ends up making the play Core doesn’t. He at the very least deserves to chance to try at this point.
Like Phillips, Franks had an active but uneventful day on special teams. He watched as Matt Lengel scored a touchdown in the second quarter from the sidelines, as he only took three offensive snaps. The good news for him is that his roster spot seems secure for the remainder of the year as Tyler Kroft was placed on injured reserve this past Friday.
The Bengals come back to Paul Brown Stadium to host another rookie quarterback in Mayfield and the new-look Browns, who are 1-1 since firing Hue Jackson and are coming off their bye week. Odds are we won’t see them go full read-option like the Ravens did, but they have to respect Mayfield’s arm talent and decision making. If they don’t they could find themselves below .500 for the first time this season.