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Film Room: The Replacements

A look at Cam Taylor-Britt, Hakeem Adeniji, and Max Scharping vs Baltimore.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals have managed to stay relatively healthy over the course of the season, but they do carry a few major injuries into the playoffs.

When Chidobe Awuzie got hurt earlier this year, rookie Cam Taylor-Britt was called upon to take on a starting role.

A few weeks ago, the team also lost La’el Collins for the season. This moved Hakeem Adeniji back into the starting lineup as the right tackle. He will be joined on the right side of the line by Max Scharping, who replaced right guard Alex Cappa after an injury late in last week’s game.

As the Bengals prepare to make another playoff run, Taylor-Britt, Adeniji, and Scharping will play a pivotal role. Let’s take a look at what the trio did against the Ravens last week.

The first thing that stands out about Taylor-Britt is his tackling. He is an incredible asset in run support.

As the run play develops in this clip, Taylor-Britt (29) slides onto the screen from the left side. He keeps his hips square to the line of scrimmage, in case the ball bounces outside. When the running back cuts inside, Taylor-Britt closes behind the lead blocker and makes the touchdown-saving tackle.

This was an amazing physical play by the rookie.

Speaking of touchdown-saving plays, check out the play that Taylor-Britt makes in this ball.

As one receiver crosses the formation, another comes back to Taylor-Britt’s side. The rookie matches up with the new threat. As the ball comes, Taylor-Britt brings his off hand in front of the receiver and knocks it down.

This was a phenomenal play, that showcases Taylor-Britt’s ability to read the quarterback and make a play on the ball.

This play, however, may be my favorite.

Taylor-Britt is in press coverage against the outside receiver. He is patient as he waits for the receiver’s release. He keeps his eyes focused on this receiver’s hips and does not turn too soon.

As the receiver releases outside, Taylor-Britt man-turns. People always worry about getting beat vertically, but the horizontal space between the defender and the receiver is equally important. Taylor-Britt gives up no horizontal space, and because it is an outside route, this allows him to use the sideline to bracket the receiver. He gets right on the receiver’s hip, keeping the route wide.

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Because he is in this position on the outside route, he can turn back to the quarterback and lean with his shoulder towards the receiver. Leaning on the route does two things.

First, it allows him to feel if the receiver breaks off his route and turns it into a comeback.

Second, it creates a tighter window for the throw because the quarterback has to keep the ball in bounds and away from Taylor-Britt.

He has had some miscues in coverage, but this play shows me what Taylor-Britt is capable of in coverage. He has a sharp learning curve heading into the NFL playoffs, but If he can consistently play like this, he will be an elite defender in the Bengals’ defense.

Hakeem Adeniji is a lot like Jonah Williams. Both have great feet and do a good job against speed rushers, but they struggle against power. That’s why Adeniji had issues playing guard.

In this clip, rookie David Ojabo tries to win with speed outside, but Adeniji won’t let it happen. Adeniji is an excellent athlete who is tough to beat on the edge.

It was pretty late in the game when Max Scharping made his first appearance, and although the Bengals continued to pass the ball, the Ravens didn’t challenge him with much of a pass rush.

On this zone run, however, you get a pretty good idea of what Scharping brings to the table. You can see how athletic he is as number 74 reaches the three-technique, and he demonstrates his power by finishing the block by putting the defender on the ground.

While it is extremely unfortunate to lose Cappa right before the playoffs, Scharping has the experience and skills to get them through it.

The Bengals need Taylor-Britt, Adeniji, and Scharping to step up this week. Fortunately, this is a talented trio, who have the skills to do just that.