When we do our weekly award designations here at Cincy Jungle, we often have an option for our readers to vote on particular winners, or, as is the case with the Goat of the Week, losers. This week, we decided to arbitrarily nominate the offensive line as the recipient of the Goat of the Week award. To clarify, we’re not talking about the acronym GOAT (meaning greatest of all time) we’re talking about goat as in scapegoat.
Almost every time we do this post, a reader comments with something akin to blaming the coaches. While that’s a reasonable assumption once again this week and one we’ve already reacted to after the Bengals’ loss to the Giants, these weekly posts are directed toward the players.
Additionally, we also noted the line’s struggles on Monday night as a microcosm of the 2016 season. They gave up three more sacks to the Giants, bringing the total to 28 for the season, good for a current ranking of 30th in the NFL.
The Pro Football Focus grades for many of the members of the offensive line weren’t terrible this week. Offensive guard Kevin Zeitler had the highest grade of the group at 78.3, while offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth and center Russell Bodine also graded in the mid-to-low 70’s.
Top-graded @Bengals on offense:— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) November 15, 2016
1.RG Kevin Zeitler 78.3
2.QB Andy Dalton 77.0
3.LT Andrew Whitworth 74.5
4.C Russell Bodine 73.1
Neither Tyler Eifert nor A.J. Green were graded better than Bodine on Monday, so consider that.
On the flip side, the Giants had three defensive linemen score well (via PFF) and help to take down the Bengals. Defensive end Olivier Vernon, who had 10 total tackles and one of the three Giants sacks, graded out at 83.5, while his counterpart on the other side, Jason Pierre-Paul had an 83.2 grade. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison was rated at a shade under 80 at 79.8. Those are three quality grades from three starters along the New York defensive line.
Personally speaking, this is why I like, but don’t love PFF and their metrics. Many who follow football can use “the eye test” and see that the Bengals’ line and its players didn’t play up to the ratings they were given.
Aside from one sack of the three being split between Harrison and Jonathan Casillas, pointing to multiple failures on the line on that particular fourth quarter play, many other pressures occurred. The picture below speaks a thousand words on the line’s performance both on Monday night and throughout 2016. Cedric Ogbuehi is on his back, while Clint Boling is on his knees and Zeilter is on his rear end as Dalton has four guys piling on him. It’s a pretty unbelievable sight, really.
Dalton still made plays in the wake of immense pressure on the evening, both with his feet and when scrambling out of the pocket. Examples of both were seen in the fourth quarter on a 20-yard pass to Tyler Eifert after rolling to his right, and a 15-yard scramble on their final drive of the game. It was on that final drive that the line gave up back-to-back sacks, including the one in the picture above, which effectively ended the game for the Bengals.
Do you think the offensive line deserves the blame as the biggest negative contributors to the team’s loss, a la, the Goats of the Week?