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Tracking the Bengals’ defensive line alignments during “obvious” passing scenarios

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Who played defensive end, defensive tackle, and who rotated where on passing downs in the Bengals’ second preseason game? We take a look at the raw numbers.

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Photo by Justin Aller /Getty Images

This is one of those postings that may only interest me — AKA, I’m thinking about something and I answer it via a Chop Block post. There’s very little insight, story structure, or analysis here; just answering random musings from the couch during a stormy Cincinnati afternoon. There might not even be a conclusion; I’ll just stop when I’m finished.


During my Andrew Billings assessment, I took note of Cincinnati’s defensive alignment during obvious passing scenarios. What were the personnel packages? Were they different on second-and-long compared to third down?

So we reviewed all third downs with three yards or more to go, second downs with seven yards or more to go while playing nickel defense. They played 4-3 alignments on many long-distance situations on second down — we didn’t include those — and all plays inside of the two minute warning. First downs were largely ignored — except within the two minute warning. If you’re wondering why I picked those distances and scenarios, it was completely arbitrary. My goal was simply to see the personnel groupings on the defensive line in “obvious” passing scenarios and I wanted a pre-snap baseline to judge it.

Cincinnati’s favorite third down package was Carlos Dunlap (LDE), Michael Johnson (LDT), Geno Atkins (RDT), and Carl Lawson (RDT). When they faced “obvious” passing scenarios on second down in nickel defense, they kept a nose tackle in (Billings or Chris Baker), but swapped out Johnson for Lawson. Note this was the most-used package, despite the Bengals listing Lawson as a third-string player on the depth chart.

Cincinnati began playing second-team players around the midway point in the second quarter. Their alignment with the backups remain consistent with Sam Hubbard (LDE), Lawson (RDE), and Ryan Glasgow and Jordan Willis at defensive tackle.

Here’s the raw numbers:

Bengals D-Line alignment vs. Dallas (first half only)

Q - Time SPOT DOWN TO GO LDE LDT RDT RDE RESULT
Q - Time SPOT DOWN TO GO LDE LDT RDT RDE RESULT
1st - 13:34 DAL-30 3 3 Dunlap Johnson Atkins Lawson 8-yard completion
1st - 12:17 DAL-39 3 9 Dunlap Johnson Atkins Lawson 3-yard completion
1st - 8:22 CIN-37 2 8 Dunlap Billings Glasgow Johnson 19-yard completion
1st - 7:29 CIN-18 2 10 Dunlap Atkins Billings Lawson 1-yard run
1st - 6:51 CIN-17 3 9 Dunlap Johnson Atkins Lawson Incomplete
1st - 3:09 DAL-30 2 10 Dunlap Baker Atkins Johnson 3-yard run
1st- 2:34 DAL-33 3 7 Dunlap Johnson Atkins Lawson 10-yard completion
2nd - 12:48 CIN-15 3 3 Dunlap Johnson Atkins Lawson 8-yard completion
2nd - 10:54 CIN-6 3 6 Dunlap Johnson Atkins Lawson 6-yard completion TD
2nd - 4:17 DAL-5 3 12 Hubbard Glasgow Willis Lawson Incomplete
2nd - 2:30 CIN-49 3 9 Hubbard Glasgow Willis Lawson 5-yard completion
2nd - 1:13 DAL-33 1 10 Hubbard Willis Glasgow Lawson Sack/Fumble (Hubbard)
2nd - 1:04 DAL-28 2 15 Hubbard Willis Glascow Lawson Incomplete
2nd - 0:58 DAL-28 3 15 Hubbard Willis Glasgow Lawson Sack (Lawson)