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Film room: Bengals offensive line combats major pass-rushing threat in Dallas

Cowboys defensive ends Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory gave the Bengals’ pass protection a real test.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals’ pass protection looked good against the Chicago Bears in week one of the preseason, but the Dallas Cowboys have an impressive pair of defensive ends who challenged the Bengals’ first unit from both sides.

In the clip below the Bengals are running a full-slide protection where every offensive linemen slides to the right and the running back is responsible for the left edge. Right tackle Bobby Hart has a big task with Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence rushing off the right end.

Hart’s initial footwork is good, but when he goes to engage on Lawrence, he leads forward and stops his feet. Lawrence has no trouble getting around him with a rip move which could have spelled trouble if quarterback Andy Dalton had not gotten the ball off so fast.

Right guard Trey Hopkins sets well, but leans too much into his assignment as well. Hopkins manages to hold on and not give up any penetration. Center Billy Price and left guard Clint Boling have good technique and execution.

As Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory stunts inside Bengals left tackle Cordy Glenn, Glenn puts his hand on his hip and washes him down. This is the right move, but Glenn needs to do more to keep Gregory out of the backfield as he is getting too much penetration.

Running back Joe Mixon rounds off the protection with a great cut block on the rushing linebacker Jaylon Smith.

This is a half-man/half zone protection where the center, left guard, and left tackle slide to the left and the right guard and right tackle are responsible for a man on the right side with the running back picking up any blitzer to that side. On the right side, Hart struggles with Lawrence who uses his fast hands to clear Hart’s hands and get the edge. Hopkins is giving up way too much ground and he is bull rushed into the backfield by Tyrone Crawford.

Mixon does an excellent job of picking up Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee despite the mess in the backfield. On the left Glenn’s initial footwork is good, but he needs to post step down harder when Gregory makes an inside move. He should have help on the inside, but Boling stuck with the defender who crossed his face rather than passing him off to Price. This is an assignment error by Boling possibly due to a lack of confidence in the rookie Price.

Both Boling and Price look pretty good on the inside here. Right guard Alex Redmond gives on some initial penetration, but is able to rebound and put the defensive tackle on the ground.

The Bengals have problems on both edges. On the left Glenn is being overpowered by a bull rush. The pass rusher is unable to disengage from Glenn, but pushes him into the backfield. Lawrence is able to use his speed on Hart which forces Dalton to scramble out of the pocket.

Here the Bengals are in a half-man/half-zone. Once again the protection looks pretty good inside. Boling and Price are essentially blocking one man who manages to get outside of Boling late. Redmond looks good on his block right away, although eventually the defender does take the path of least resistance and get some penetration.

Glenn is able to keep Gregory off of the quarterback, but Dalton is definitely not comfortable as the edge rusher is bending around the corner. Hart is excellent with his feet at the beginning, but needs to anchor himself when Lawrence transitions from speed to power him into the backfield.

The offensive line is in a man protection here, with no back in the backfield to give them assistance. Glenn handles the bull rush on the left side. Boling makes initial contact with the defender, but passes him off to Price as he moves inside. Redmond is pushed back initially, but is able to anchor himself and halt the pass rush.

Pre-snap Hart should see Lawrence’s tilt and alignment and realize that his will not be rushing the edge. Hart pass sets as he would if he was expecting an edge rush then fails to properly post step to the inside and engage with Lawrence. If this was not a quick pass it would have certainly been a sack.

In this clip, running back Giovani Bernard is lined up close to the line to protect the A gap. Price strikes the blitzer in the A gap, but as the defender slips off of him Price holds him (not called, but obvious). Both guards are good initially. Boling is getting pushed back as the play goes on, but he is competing.

Redmond is sticking like glue to the pass-rusher, but getting pushed back and needs to bend his knees and anchor himself better to prevent this from occurring. Glenn is giving up too much ground and loses Gregory as he transitions from power to speed. Hart sets well initially, but Lawrence is able to use his momentum against him and open up the inside move. Dalton is less than a second away from being sacked on either side.

Both tackles struggle and the defenders are able to close in on quarterback Jeff Driskel from both sides. Glenn gets his feet tangled up and is bull rushed nearly into Driskel and Cedric Ogbuehi is defeated with speed from the right tackle position. Inside Boling is handling his man and Hopkins and Price have stalemated the nose tackle with a double team.

This protection is man on the left and zone on the right. Despite being too high, Glenn is able to stop Gregory’s rush as he attempts to spin inside. Boling sticks with the defensive tackle as he loops to the outside and is able to push him down as he attempts to take the edge. The zone side picks up the twist well as Ogbuehi pushes the stunting defensive tackle to the outside and Hopkins flattens the defensive end looping to the inside. Price is there to assist, but is not needed.

In the final clip, Glenn and Boling both do well in man on the left side. Price and Redmond have no problem as they double team the nose tackle. Ogbuehi also does well as Taco Charlton attempts to speed rush and throws an inside spin move late. Ogbuehi’s feet look excellent, and he is able to maintain excellent body position throughout the block.

Lawrence and Gregory gave the Bengals a real challenge on the edge. Glenn, Hart, and Ogbuehi stood up to it pretty well, but even the highly touted Glenn needs to improve his preformance against pass-rushers of this quality. The pocket was not clean nearly as often as it was in the preseason opener and Dalton and Driskell certainly felt the pressure.