The Bengals offense had been teasing us with third-year offensive guard Alex Redmond starting at right guard ahead of Trey Hopkins in the past two weeks.
First, he started splitting reps with the incumbent starter in practice. Then, he alternated with Hopkins in the first half of last week’s game against Dallas.
This week, Redmond was given the chance to make a statement on the offensive line in the first drives of the game, while Hopkins watched on the sideline.
It didn’t start off very well though.
harrison phillips isn't kyle williams, apologies pic.twitter.com/IESQnKKIUi— not kevin durant (@nevkinturand) August 27, 2018
This was actually Harrison Phillips who gets the best of Redmond here (the All-22 footage is 95% for seeing numbers). And Redmond surrenders five yards of pocket space for quarterback Andy Dalton.
Dalton didn’t need much more than two seconds at the end of his seven-step drop to launch one to wide receiver John Ross down the field, but Redmond needs to re-anchor a lot quicker and get his hands back into position. Because next time, Dalton could be next to Redmond instead of behind him.
Obviously, offensive lineman are aware of how long the drop back is for any pass, so they know how long they need to protect for, but getting long-armed backwards that far is never acceptable.
A couple little mistakes lead to a disaster of a play, but Redmond wasn’t part of anything that went wrong.
The Bengals run this pin-and-pull sweep out of shotgun all the time. On this variation, you have the frontside tight end and tackle, Tyler Kroft and Cordy Glenn, lose off the ball, and the defenders disrupt left guard Clint Boling and center Billy Price’s pulls around them. On the backside, you have Bobby Hart attempting to find someone in the second level, and Redmond executing a perfect reach block on nose tackle Star Lotulelei.
Sometimes one guy does his job and the play still goes to Hell. It happens.
Before this play on this drive, Redmond committed two penalties and was then taken out for Hopkins, who would man the right guard spot until midway through the second quarter.
Redmond gets his revenge on Phillips.
He achieves ideal placement and establishes control over Phillips, who then attempts to disengage and work around Redmond, but fails miserably.
Redmond’s work in pass protection with his aggressive jump sets stood out on the following drive as well, and put together a handful of consecutive clean reps in the Bengals two-minute drill.
The first play had Redmond going up against Lotulelei, who was shaded towards Redmond’s left side. You can see his set begins with a leftwards motion to mirror him off the snap, but Lotulelei comes first with a hard swipe of the hands. Redmond does a great job of re-positioning his feet in a more timely manner.
The offense fails to get into scoring position, but Redmond could hold his head up high for finishing the half on a high note after a rough start.
Redmond would go on to tie for the most snaps along the offensive line, the player he tied with was Cedric Ogbuehi, who saw the field much earlier than we all expected.
Cordy Glenn’s shoulder injury took him out of the game right before the end of the first quarter. When Glenn has exited the previous two games with the rest of the first-team unit, it has been Jake Fisher to replace him at left tackle. But it was Ogbuehi who was called on in an emergency situation. His work in pass protection against the Bills first-string edge rishers was my main focus.
Credit’s due where credit’s earned.
With no false steps, Ogbuehi reads Hughes well, and strikes early. When Hughes tries to dip under him, he quickly resets his hands and just finishes him where he stood. We’ve seen Ogbuehi win against outside rushes with his length. The scouting report says the best way to beat Ogbuehi is to go through him. So Hughes tries that next.
I never thought we’d see it.
Granted, Hughes is not a power rusher, he makes his money off finesse, but he’s still a worthy adversary. And Ogbuehi snuffs out all the power Hughes is exerting. The angles created by Ogbuehi’s waist, knee and ankles are perfect for keeping his balance in face of force, and with just one hob-step, he beats Hughes cleanly.
But it was a short-lived dream.
Defensive end Eddie Yarbrough has a much larger airstrip to launch into Ogbuehi’s chest, who is already noticeably further back in depth from the rest of the offensive line. You want to see Ogbuehi be less passive here, and take away power from the equation at the start. Because even though he wins sometimes, he loses more times than not when he’s faced with it.
Ogbuehi would play the rest of the game at left tackle, and would later allow Dalton to be hit a couple times. When he was asked to answer the bell, we got varying results. Run blocking wise, he didn’t really stand out, but the interior for the second-team worked really well once again with left guard Christian Westerman and Hopkins at center before Westerman left the game with a back injury.
We may see Redmond start against Indianapolis on Thursday night, we may see Hopkins there, we may not see either of them if the competition hasn’t been decided yet. The bigger question to me is who is at left tackle to start the game. Fisher has been the aforementioned backup there, but Ogbuehi got an extended look there.
Whoever ends up playing there, the other will likely be manning the opposite side, and this could be the last time we see both players on the Bengals before final cuts go down this Saturday.