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Bengals’ snaps vs. Chargers show their depth faced biggest test of season

Plenty of backups for Cincinnati got a shot to show their stuff against Los Angeles.

NFL: SEP 30 Jaguars at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals had a disappointing outing against the Los Angeles Chargers. The biggest thing we saw Sunday from a snap analysis perspective was it marked the first time we saw Cincinnati have to deal with a large amount of injuries. We’ll look at how that played a part in the game and who got chances to step up.

Wild turnover battle

The Bengals out snapped the Chargers by the tune of 76 offensive plays to 64. Cincinnati had the edge on amount of first downs and third down efficiency as well. However, they did also cough up the ball four times while the Chargers only had three turnovers. The crucial one being the freak Joe Mixon fumble that was returned for a touchdown as the Bengals were driving with a chance to take the lead.

Both teams had runs where their offenses looked unstoppable and that they had all the momentum. The key ended up being who was going to shoot themselves in the foot the least.

Bengals’ depth tested

Cincinnati have been one of the more fortunate teams this season as far as injuries go. They have dealt with very few injuries to players people would consider major contributors. However, Sunday saw that trend catch up practically in one game.

It started with missing center Trey Hopkins and offensive tackle Riley Reiff. These two had started every game this season and were replaced, respectively, with rookie Trey Hill and Isaiah Prince, who is playing in his second season after opting out in 2020. The inexperience showed early and often with penalties and missed assignments in pass protection. It took them about a half to finally gel enough in the running game, but the deficit on the scoreboard made that part of the offense an afterthought. The o-line has been solid of late, but the depth behind the stable vets is still pretty green. It brings up concerns over what it would mean for this team if they suffered a major injury in this area.

Linebacker Logan Wilson also went down with an injury trying to make a play on a punt coverage. That was a huge blow as he has played almost every snap as well as having the green dot to be able to relay plays. Germaine Pratt (62) stayed on the field for pretty much the whole game and Joe Bachie (39) took Wilson’s place. Bachie was very serviceable and a pretty sure tackler for playing the most he has all year.

The defense was also hit with an injury to Chidobe Awuzie following him making an insane interception. The team also didn’t have Darius Phillips active even though he was a full participant in the final two practices before the game. That meant we got our first looks at Vernon Hargreaves III (29) in a Bengals uniform after being inactive since being claimed by Cincinnati off waivers. He had a very noteworthy play where he helped jar the ball loose from Austin Ekeler with Pratt’s help. He didn’t really get roasted on defense, so a pretty solid outing overall.

Going big

One common complaint following the loss was the amount of times Cincinnati ran their offensive formation with the extra offensive lineman. Usually, that duty goes to Prince, but instead it was rookie Jackson Carman who was brought in for the jumbo sets.

They ran that formation 11 times on Sunday, which is pretty standard based on how much they’ve used it this year. The idea of running behind an extra lineman and Drew Sample is a good idea. It was clear that the Chargers were ready for it though, and they really didn’t do a great job of mixing in those play action plays to setup off of it. Although, play action doesn’t work as well when you’re forced into passing situations.

The frustration of running a play where you take two of your biggest playmakers on the field to try and establish some physicality is hard to justify doing 11 times when you were already losing the battle at the line of scrimmage.

A hand for Joe Burrow

It needs to be recognized that Burrow really put his all into this game. He played through practically two and a half quarters with a dislocated pinky that looked ugly. You could also see the clear pain on his face each time he threw the ball.

He still was able to hit sideline passes despite all of that. He still almost engineered an impossible comeback. He still looked like the guy who was advertised as being a football player before being a quarterback. Not every quarterback in the league would have been able to do that, but Burrow did it while still playing at a pretty high level.

What were your takeaways from the snaps?

Bengals snap counts against Chargers

POS. NAME Snaps Percentage of snaps
POS. NAME Snaps Percentage of snaps
WR Tyler Boyd 57 75
WR Mike Thomas DNP DNP
WR Ja'Marr Chase 73 96
WR Tee Higgins 60 79
WR Stanley Morgan 5 7
WR Trenton Irwin 5 7
WR Pooka Williams -- --
OT Jonah Williams 76 100
OT Riley Reiff DNP DNP
OT Isaiah Prince 76 100
OT Fred Johnson DNP DNP
OG Jackson Carman 11 14
OG Quinton Spain 76 100
OG Hakeem Adeniji 76 100
OG Keaton Sutherland -- --
C Trey Hopkins DNP DNP
C Trey Hill 76 100
TE C.J. Uzomah 66 87
TE Drew Sample 26 34
TE Mitchell Wilcox 1 1
QB Joe Burrow 76 100
QB Brandon Allen -- --
RB Joe Mixon 50 66
RB Samaje Perine 26 34
RB Chris Evans DNP DNP
RB Trayveon Williams -- --
DE Trey Hendrickson 41 64
DE Cam Sample 23 36
DE Sam Hubbard 60 94
DE Wyatt Ray 2 3
DE Khalid Kareem DNP DNP
DT D.J. Reader 43 67
DT Larry Ogunjobi 51 80
DT Josh Tupou 17 27
DT B.J. Hill 21 33
DT Tyler Shelvin DNP DNP
LB Logan Wilson 18 28
LB Germaine Pratt 62 97
LB Joe Baiche 39 61
LB Markus Bailey -- --
LB Clay Johnston 1 2
CB Mike Hilton 57 89
CB Chidobe Awuzie 38 59
CB Tre Flowers 6 9
CB Jalen Davis 2 3
CB Darius Phillips DNP DNP
CB Eli Apple 63 98
CB Vernon Hargreaves 29 45
S Ricardo Allen 3 5
S Vonn Bell 64 100
S Jessie Bates III 63 98
S Michael Thomas -- --