The Bengals got stomped by the Cleveland Browns. It was, by far, the worst loss of the season.
Cincinnati’s three previous losses were all by three points. Against Cleveland, they lost by 25.
Did the magic finally wear off? Was last Sunday when we saw the true face of the team? Is scoring on the defense going to be a breeze for future opponents?
No, no, and no.
Here’s why: the Browns were a terrible matchup for the Bengals. They have a very physical offensive line and running game. The Bengals, as great as they have been at hiding it, do not have the personnel to compete with that.
Other than D.J. Reader (and B.J. Hill, who’s only played 245 snaps), the Bengals’ defensive line hasn’t been great at tackling in general. Even Trey Hendrickson, who has been an absolute star in the pass rush game, has been a liability in that department.
Bengals defensive tackling grades (PFF) for the year. Strong up the middle. Issues on the edge. pic.twitter.com/nnbAqODbm7— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) November 8, 2021
That trend, not surprisingly, continued last Sunday, when the Bengals had to try to stop Nick Chubb and a Cleveland ground game that is averaging an eye-popping 5.3 yards per carry.
The good news is, the Bengals will only have to face the Browns one more time this year in the regular season. And while they will face some other teams that can run the ball well, none of them have a combination of o-line and running backs as lethal as Cleveland’s.
Further, Cincinnati actually isn’t that bad at stopping the run. Really, they just have a problem tackling, which means, when they get pushed off the line as easily as they did by the Browns’ big guys, they aren’t very good at wrapping ball carriers up.
In PFF’s run-stop percentage, the #Bengals are the only team with 3 interior defenders in the top 32.— Willie Lutz (@willie_lutz) November 13, 2021
3rd - BJ Hill (13.9%)
17th - Larry Ogunjobi (10.8%)
32nd - DJ Reader (9.4%)
Expect them to get back to form after two rough weeks against Michael Carter and Nick Chubb. pic.twitter.com/hk3E4dL33v
In other words, the defensive players are generally in position to make plays but they simply can’t do so when there is a significant talent gap like there was last week.
For more on why Bengals fans shouldn’t freak out over last Sunday’s loss and should rather continue to be excited about the growth of their young team, watch our midseason review with official team reporter Marisa Contipelli:
You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below: