The nature of the NFL is in a given week, your offensive line and run game can perform well above expectation, your defense can hold an opposing offense to fewer than 20 points, and you can still lose and play like the inferior team.
For a month, the line and ground attack were two areas of concern for the Cincinnati Bengals, and just when they found their stride, persistent issues in the passing game made their progressions an afterthought. It’s a testament to not only what matters most in winning games, but also how one aspect of a team can hold back everything else.
At the very least, Cincinnati’s first-year players played their roles well in Sunday night’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Here’s how they did.
While the isolated play from Volson remained on par with what he’s been this season, Sunday night provided examples of growth regarding his understanding and communication with his teammates in pass protection. Stunts and blitzes are being picked up more efficiently on the left side as both Volson and Williams are working together in sync. This was the vision the Bengals had when they declared Volson the starter six weeks ago. It just took some time and seasoning to get him to this point.
The very beginning and end of the game is when Volson had some minor struggles, but he really settled in for the vast majority of the game. He ended up with his second-highest pass blocking grade of 71.5 from Pro Football Focus.
It’s still not as pretty as his counterpart in right guard Alex Cappa, but the Bengals will take losing slow over losing fast.
In general, it was an off night for the Bengals’ run defense. Carter only played 12 snaps against the run and was largely a non-factor, but it was his first time playing the Ravens’ scheme and he didn’t look too out of place staying in his fits. This play on Lamar Jackson was very impressive.
But this is Lamar Jackson we’re talking about, and doing this twice in a row is usually not possible.
Carter was also playing a variety of alignments in this game compared to last week when he was only at 3-technique against the Dolphins. He saw time at 5-tech on both sides of the formation and his fair share of B-gap work as well.
Baltimore’s offense didn’t have its No. 1 receiver in Rashod Bateman, so they deployed a plethora of tight splits with their receivers. This gave Hill a handful of opportunities as a slot defender on obvious passing downs. Here he is breaking up the first pass of his career early in the game.
There’s not much predicting where Hill—or how often—will be used in Cincinnati’s defense. That he’s only out there for a few snaps a game makes the discussion largely moot anyways.
Where on the field was Dax Hill?
- Slot corner: four snaps
- Cornerback: one snap
- Edge defender: one snap