It was a disastrous day for the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense on Sunday, and a lot of the problems can be fixed after examining the snap counts this week.
One of the biggest issues is the offensive line and its coaching. You could also easily make the argument it is the fault of the front office for not providing enough viable options to actually unseat some of these struggling players. But adjustments must be made regardless.
Now that we have that out of the way though, we can see some trends emerging this week. There were two big injuries that changed up some rotations on both sides of the ball, and we also saw one young player get a huge upgrade in playing time. There are also a few subtle things that need changing if this team wants to play at a higher standard the rest of the season.
- The Bengals actually out snapped the Ravens 67 to 63, and we can file this game under reasons why just trying to run more plays than the other team doesn’t mean you win. The defense deserves credit for turning things around after some early struggles. Aside from the Ravens scoring a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter, they held that Baltimore team to just a field goal for nearly 45 minutes of football. That is an incredible feat, and it deserves recognition here. Cincinnati’s offense had moments where they’d move the ball, but their drives were rarely sustained. They just had a lot of them.
- Rookie linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither (50) played one of the biggest roles on the defense. This came out of nowhere as he and fellow rookie Logan Wilson (30) had been rotating behind Germaine Pratt (36) and Josh Bynes (39) this season. Baltimore always brings out a different trend for modern NFL defenses. They run more two wide receiver sets than any team in the NFL, which means teams will likely go with more base defense (three linebacker in Davis-Gaither and the Bengals’ case). It is great to see one of the young linebackers play such a large role, and it will be interesting to see how this playing time is split going forward.
- A.J. Green’s hamstring injury only had him play 28 snaps before he left the game. This opened up an opportunity for these wide receivers behind him to see more playing time. Rookie Tee Higgins (54) led the way out of all wide receivers, Mike Thomas (33) benefitted the most (his fumble obviously may hurt the amount of snaps he gets going forward) and Auden Tate (26) also played a more substantial role. What may be the most troubling thing is Tyler Boyd only playing 46 snaps. He was never reported with an injury either, but when your best wide receiver isn’t playing at least 90 percent of the plays, you may need to reconsider how you are either calling plays or rotating these players. Joe Burrow is an incredible talent, but you shouldn’t make him try and perform without the wide receiver he is most comfortable with.
- This one is more of a suggestion based off what we could see from the broadcast vantage. Often times on Sunday, the pressure getting through came via free blitzers. Baltimore accomplished this by having multiple defenders run at the line, but the ones accounted for would fall back in coverage after getting the offensive line to commit. Cincinnati tried to counter balance this with leaving Drew Sample (63) in to block as an inline tight end, but that didn’t really help the issue. What they needed was more blockers lined up next to Burrow to catch the free blitzer. How do you accomplish this? Play Giovani Bernard (16) and Joe Mixon (51) at the same time next to Burrow. You could also even line Sample up back there and accomplish the same thing. They don’t have to stay in and block, and it makes it easier to motion either out of the back field because it doesn’t leave Burrow back there in an empty set. Also just play Bernard more.
- Geno Atkins clearly isn’t all the way back after only playing 19 plays. They probably only used him in obvious passing situations, but now with D.J. Reader (29) out for the season, this defense will be looking for contributions from their interior defensive linemen far more desperately. One guy who seems to be stepping up is Christian Covington (38). He played the second most snaps of any defensive lineman last week. We should also expect Andrew Brown to actually be active and playing next week.
- Carlos Dunlap is officially being relegated to a rotational role. He only had 29 snaps this week, but he did have a sack on Lamar Jackson in that time. Carl Lawson (40) has now become the starter, and he played the most snaps for the defensive line on Sunday. Sam Hubbard (38) did leave the game early with an injury though. The severity of which isn’t quite clear at the moment. What is clear is Dunlap may have to get use to his new role when both of these linemen are healthy.
- LeShaun Sims (50) may have actually taken Darius Phillips (45) job over these past two weeks. Mackenzie Alexander has missed two games, which has forced Phillips to play inside, but Sunday it seemed like when there were only two corners on the field, Sims stayed out there with William Jackson III (63). It will be something to watch when Alexander does eventually return, but Sims hasn’t been noticeably bad. He would’ve looked better if Cincinnati had Jackson shadow Marquise Brown all day.
Bengals snap counts against the Ravens
|#||POS.||NAME||Snaps||Percentage of snaps|
|#||POS.||NAME||Snaps||Percentage of snaps|
|30||S||Jessie Bates III||63||100|