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Breaking down Bengals' offensive line's dominance vs Chargers

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As we review the tape and the metrics from the Bengals' win over the Chargers, the offensive line was excellent against San Diego. Have a look and see for yourself.

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When reviewing the statistics in the aftermath of the Bengals' 24-19 win over the Chargers on Sunday, it was clear that Cincinnati's offensive line played well. After all, the big picture stats of zero sacks allowed and 175 team rushing yards points to a solid afternoon's work.

Still, such could be noted from even the most casual of NFL fans. Going further into detail are the number-crunchers over at Pro Football Focus with their postgame analysis. Four of the team's top-five performers against San Diego were offensive linemen, with most coming in at around the +3.5 overall grade or higher. Here's their take:

The performance of the Bengals’ offensive line was the polar opposite of the Chargers’. Rarely have we seen such a dominant performance by an offensive unit. The five starters combined for a +20.8 grade, with all players recording shutouts in pass protection. C Russell Bodine (+4.8) was the most effective offensive lineman in terms of run blocking, recording a +4.0 grade. He was the standout of a dominant group, however, with all lineman recording +1.0 grades or better. If the Bengals line continues to play like this, they’ll take all the pressure off Andy Dalton, which can only be a good thing.

Top Performers:

DT Geno Atkins (+5.1)
C Russell Bodine (+4.8)
RT Andre Smith Jr. (+4.6)
LG Clint Boling (+4.4)
LT Andrew Whitworth (+3.6)

Some, like those opposed to Billy Beane's "Moneyball" approach in Major League Baseball, just aren't fans of metrics. PFF has their place and worth, most definitely, but others also rely on pure film study and "the eye test". While film study is part of how PFF concocts their figures, there are other ways to measure player success, or lack thereof.

Bodine recently heard about the high score he received and is in the camp of indifference"Not to take a shot at those guys, but I think it would be hard to grade an O-lineman without knowing exactly what the schemes are there," Bodine said. "Obviously you can grade some pad levels, some pressures, some quarterback hits, stuff like that. But I don’t pay much attention to it."

Bodine also felt pretty good about his individual performance stating, "Yeah, I felt like I played pretty well. Obviously there’s still a couple plays I’d like to do better for sure. But overall I felt like I played pretty well last week."

Take a look at some clips of Bodine's play from Sunday:

While the next clip provided by Josh Kirkendall points out a good pitch-and-catch between Andy Dalton and Tyler Eifert, take a look at the pocket that was formed. The best is the horseshoe of protection formed by the interior of the line.

Here are some notable tidbits of info pointing to the offensive line's dominance through the first two weeks:

  • Currently, the Bengals rank No. 4 in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 151 per game.
  • Andy Dalton has a 120.3 rating through the first two games.
  • The offensive line hasn't let up a sack in two games.
  • The Bengals are No. 7 in the NFL in total offense at 392.5 yards per game.
  • Giovani Bernard ranks No. 4 in the NFL in rushing yards with 186 rushing yards. His splitting of carries with Jeremy Hill makes this quite impressive.
  • At the average of 28.5 points per game, the Bengals are ranked No. 6 in the NFL.

Former Chargers center, Nick Hardwickspent time analyzing the Bengals' offensive line performance last week on the Chargers' website. One play he analyzes is a run late in the fourth quarter: "The situation is this--there are four minutes left in the game, everybody knows that the Bengals are going to rush the football, not rising an interception. It's a 'pound-it out' mentality and the Chargers defense can't hold. It's a very creative play."

In this specific call, the Bengals pulled both Andrew Whitworth and Clint Boling to the right on a power run with Bernard. Boring takes out the edge player, while Bernard finds a seam behind Whitworth. The result was a 14-yard run on second and five, with Bernard making the wise decision to slide in bounds to keep the clock moving. As Hardwick noted, it's the will and the ability to pound the ball even when the opposition knew it was coming.

On the few occasions that Dalton did see pressure, he wisely threw it away instead of forcing a throw into coverage and risking an interception. One other time the Bengals dodged a bullet because of "The Tuck Rule", Manti Te'o came free on a blitz and hit Dalton.

Otherwise, the line paved good lanes for running backs and got into second-level blocking often for assistance and allowed comfortability for Dalton during most of the afternoon. It's been a theme through the first two weeks as the group hasn't allowed a sack and both Hill and Bernard have had their moments of good runs. Dalton is one of only two NFL quarterbacks who haven't been sacked yet this season, so it's clear the Bengals offensive line is putting up good effort, and it has shown through two weeks.