When it comes to the Bengals and stopping the run, there’s not much ‘stopping’ the boys in stripes are doing.
Since 2017, the Bengals are the only NFL team to finish in the bottom five in rush defense in all three seasons. That includes being ranked 30th in 2017, 29th in 2018, and dead last in 2019.
After two games in 2020, the Bengals rank 31st in that stat, largely due to the 215 they just allowed the Browns to run for on 35 attempts. They’re now allowing 149.9 rushing yards per game since 2017, the worst in the NFL over the span.
Whenever Cleveland’s ground game needed to produce, they simply ran right down the Bengals’ throats, and there was seemingly nothing they could do about it, whether it was from starter Nick Chubb (124 on 22 runs) or backup Kareem Hunt (86 on 10 runs, including a 33-yarder late in the fourth quarter).
It was so bad that Browns fullback Andy Janovich said that his team could have run for 300-400 yards if they wanted, and it’s hard to disagree.
#Browns FB Andy Janovich on the run game vs the #Bengals: “We could’ve had 300, 400 yards if we wanted to”— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) September 18, 2020
It also should be noted that Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels were out this game. Having them would have helped stop the run more effectively. But while Atkins has missed the last two games now, he was active for every game over the last three seasons when Cincinnati was still getting torn apart on the ground.
And it wasn’t like the Browns’ banged-up offensive line was that dominant against the defensive line. The main reason Cleveland had so many rushing yards were the onslaught of missed tackles and assignments by Bengals defenders, which turned 4-5 yard runs into 20+ yard daggers into the heart of this defense.
The good news is the Bengals have 10 days until their next game in Week 3 against the Eagles, who currently rank 30th in rushing yards per game after mustering up just 57 against a Washington defense that finished 2019 ranked 31st in rushing defense. However, a big part of that was star running back Miles Sanders missed the game, and he’s currently set to play in Week 2, so he should play vs. Cincinnati in Week 3 barring a setback.
Something has to change, or else this is going to be another long, painful season for the Bengals.