One of the few positives from the Bengals’ Preseason Week 2 performance was the strength and depth of the defensive line.
Geno Atkins shined as normal, and Andrew Billings had some good moments as well. On the edge, Carl Lawson, Sam Hubbard, and Jordan Willis dominated the opposing offensive tackles and were a large reason why the Cowboys’ offense stalled when the starters were taken out of the game.
Pro Football Focus recognized the efforts of two of the Bengals’ young defensive ends, Hubbard and Willis.
Hubbard’s 92.5 defense grade against Dallas was the highest mark of any edge defender that played at least 20 defensive snaps this weekend. He recorded five total pressures (four hurries, one sack) on the night.
Great strip sack by Sam Hubbard -- recovered by Dallas. pic.twitter.com/eswAgdG5mR— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 19, 2018
#Bengals' Sam Hubbard, the team's rookie third-round pick, earned the highest defense grade (92.5) on the team against the #Cowboys. He recorded five total pressures in the process. pic.twitter.com/yGnOYxdfOK— PFF CIN Bengals (@PFF_Bengals) August 19, 2018
Willis’ 86.2 grade was second on the team, with three combined tackles and two sacks, one of which included this monster hit.
The two of them proved how dangerous the Bengals’ line can be when they are on the field at the same time.
When PFF assembled their Team of the Week, they couldn’t decide which Bengal to include. Instead of choosing one, they went with both.
This is what they said:
There’s really no way to split Willis and Hubbard, who came in with the Bengals backups and set about systematically dismantling the Dallas offensive line as a pair, working both sides of the line. As a duo, they combined for 10 total pressures, with Willis finishing two of them for sacks. Both players also saw extensive game action, with Willis (38 snaps) just edging Hubbard in playing time (36).
The future looks bright for the Bengals defensive line. Hubbard, a rookie, and Willis, a second-year player, will surely be patrolling the edges in Cincinnati for years to come. Not only should they develop into solid players, but they’re both on relatively cheap contracts. Hubbard was a third round pick as was Willis. Combine them with Atkins, Billings, and Lawson (who were all fourth-round picks) and the Bengals have been able to find really good defensive linemen deep in the draft.
As for Billings he earned a 90.1 grade from PFF while fellow defensive linemen Ryan Glasgow notched an 86.3 grades against the Cowboys. And, as you’d expect Geno Atkins is “still the cream of the crop in Cincinnati’s trenches, as his preseason defensive grade (90.3) ranks third among all NFL interior defenders with 20-plus defensive snaps this preseason,” PFF writes.
This is the second week in a row that at least one Bengal has been featured on PFF’s Team of the Week. Christian Westerman was the star of Week 1 at left guard.
Other relevant PFF grades and notes for the Bengals this week include:
- Offensive tackles Cordy Glenn and Jake Fisher both allowing zero total pressures against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday. Glenn has now allowed zero total pressures across 27 offensive snaps this preseason.
- Following Glenn’s lead, Bengals rookie center Billy Price also allowed zero pressures on Saturday and has allowed zero total pressures across 29 offensive snaps this preseason.
Hopefully, the Bengals can keep the streak going and continue to crank out solid performances for not only the rest of the preseason, but the rest of the year.