The Bengals had a few key performances from last night. Pro Football Focus made note of a few of their observations based on analytics, and it looks like the Bengals have a lot to be happy about.
Keivarae Russell’s pick could draw more consideration for making the team
Keivarae Russell is in the fight for his life to make the Bengals’ roster. The Bengals went out during the offseason and drafted Darius Phillips and Davontae Harris to fill out the depth at the position.
Cincinnati already was fairly well off at the position with Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson and Darqueze Dennard as their starters, so it became reasonable to wonder how many corners the Bengals would keep. Then the question became if there was a spot on the roster for Russell.
Well, Russell impressed the analytic group last night with his performance. According to Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus, Russell had one of the best performance by any cornerback in the game who played an extended amount of time.
Bengals’ KeiVarae Russell allowed receptions on three of his five targets for 24 yards and recorded one interception on an underthrown deep ball from Bears six-year veteran quarterback Tyler Bray. Russell finished the contest ranked third in passer rating allowed (32.5) among cornerbacks with 10-plus coverage snaps played last night.
Russell’s interception was probably the highlight of his performance. It was an underthrown pass, but he still did a great job of getting his head turned around to make the play. That is something some cornerbacks struggle with. He also was stride for stride with the intended receiver, so it wasn’t like Russell was beat on the play either.
The play likely put him in the good graces of the Bengals’ new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
“It was big getting them at two different levels with the linebacker getting a pick and then we got one in the secondary,” Russell told Jay Morrison of Dayton Daily News.
“That’s big time,” Russell added. “Coach doesn’t just preach it to the secondary, he preaches it to the entire defense – force fumbles, picks. No matter what position you play, get around the ball.”
Cordy Glenn’s big night; Kent Perkin’s deceiving numbers
When the Bengals added Cordy Glenn, they expected him to be a premiere left tackle, and he was nothing short of that during his first preseason game with the team. Cincinnati also seemingly got a surprising performance from Kent Perkins as well, according to Pro Football Focus.
Cincinnati Bengals new offensive tackle Cordy Glenn allowed zero total pressures across his 12 pass-block snaps against the Chicago Bears on Thursday. Fellow offensive tackle Kent Perkins also had a good night in pass protection, allowing just one pressure across 14 pass-block snaps.
That is exactly what you want to see early. That helps build confidence in Andy Dalton that he should have more time to stand in the pocket. Last year a rough preseason of constant pressure really bled over into the regular season, which led to Dalton having a rocky start to the season.
Perkins performance really isn’t what it seems. What isn’t noted here is when Perkins was called for two penalties during his time on the field, which is honestly as bad as allowing a pressure. Perkins will have to clean up his game in order to impress.
The Bengals’ favorite personnel package for defense
Austin is bringing a similarly styled defense with some minor changes in philosophy and play-calling. We shouldn’t expect him to bring out all the stop in the preseason, though. However, his personnel decisions were very clearly favoriting a certain package, according to pro football focus.
Cincinnati took the field with four defensive linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs on 28 snaps against the Bears. The defense used no other position group more than 20 times.
Now, this isn’t surprising as the Bengals often ran this package last season. It is why having Dennard is so important as he will see a huge percentage of snaps even as the nickel corner. However, last year it depended on the team they were facing.
If the opposing offense lined up in three-receiver sets, then the Bengals would play in their nickel package. If they played a more traditional two-receiver set, then Cincinnati would stick to the 4-3. The key is that most teams are running more spread offenses nowadays.
Josh Malone overcomes Matt Barkley’s terrible night
One receiver who shined last night was second-year wide receiver Malone. According to Pro Football Focus, he did a great job of producing for the amount of snaps he received during passing situations.
Bengals second-year wide receiver Josh Malone averaged 2.16 yards per route run on Thursday night, ranking 14th among wide receivers with at least 15 routes run in Thursday’s slate of games.
That is pretty good considering most of Malone’s snaps came with Barkley at quarterback. He finished second on the Bengals with 41 receiving yards, most of which came on Barkley’s best throw of the night where he hit Malone near the sideline for a 23-yard gain.
Malone did a great job of holding onto the ball after really getting whacked as he caught it as well. Malone got quite a bit of playing time as a rookie, and that experience showed in the first preseason game.