It is no secret that rookie quarterback Joe Burrow has faced a lot of pressure from the opposing pass rush this season. The Bengals have also struggled to run the ball effectively on a consistent basis.
This week the Bengals play the Washington Football Team, who at 2-7 is still very much alive in the lackluster NFC East. They have personnel issues, but the defensive line is not one of them. That position is stacked with high-level talent including five 1st Round picks.
With the Bengals’ blocking struggles, this is the matchup to watch on Sunday. Let’s take a look at what the Bengals will face in Washington.
Much like the Bengals, Washington will show a double A-Gap blitz to created one-on-one matchups on third down. In this clip they add a safety to the mix and have 7 potential pass rushers in the box, but only the four defensive linemen come.
I mentioned multiple 1st Round picks in the introduction. Here Chase Young (99), Jonathan Allen (93), and Montez Sweat (90) each overwhelm blocker, and the pocket quickly collapses. All 3 players were 1st Round selections in the last 4 years.
This clip shows the talent level of this defensive line. The Bengals offensive line will need to play at their peak level to keep Burrow protected this weekend.
It is not just about those top picks though. Washington has a plethora of talented defensive linemen and also utilize blitzes and defensive line stunts.
The Bengals have struggled to pickup movement on the defensive line. This has been particularly troublesome for their guards and centers.
In this clip Washington overloaded their defensive line to one side. It is highly unlikely that a team will line up line this and simply rush their gaps. The quarterback and the offensive line need to know that something is up and a blitz or defensive line stunt is highly likely.
The safety starts to rock down, signaling a potential blitz. He does not blitz, but is simply there to attract the attention of the guard and provide an opening for Tim Settle as he loops around from the other side.
Of course, this play is a screen, so the defensive line is allowed to get by quickly. This clip is just to demonstrate an example of the type of defensive line movement the Bengals may have to deal with on Sunday.
In the first clip they showed seven potential pass-rushers, but only sent 4. In this clip they send all seven.
Technically the Giants could have picked this up if they would have audibled to a slide protection, but obviously that didn’t happen
The Bengals need to be ready for this type of blitz and be prepared to either adjust the protection or get the ball out fast.
Interestingly, for all the talent on their defensive line, Washington struggles against the run.
In this clip Sweat comes inside the kick-out block and the running back is able to bounce outside for a long gain. This was a relatively common sight on their film.
Giovani Bernard is actually stronger in this area than Joe Mixon, so having him in the lineup again this week isn’t necessarily a determent.
The Lions were only able to open a small hole here, but it was enough for D’Andre Swift to come up with a big gain.
If the Bengals can move the ball effectively on the ground, it will limit their third and long situations. This will help them in pass protection. The Bengals offensive line vs the Washington defensive line is a huge matchup in this game, and Cincinnati needs to win it.