As the Bengals and Browns review their game plans one last time before taking the field, what can we expect the Bengals game plan to look like? Brandon Weeden will perhaps adjust to the NFL game over time, but right now it’s Week 2 and the Bengals are figuring out how to continue his and Trent Richardson’s rude welcome to the league.
More pressing is how the Bengals will combat the Browns’ severely underrated defense. They continually penetrated against the Eagles and are planning on disrupting the Bengals offense by spending most of their Sunday harassing Andy Dalton.
The Browns 4-3 defense rotates linemen out in order to stay fresh and maintain constant pressure. They run a mix of Cover 1 press-man coverage and Cover 2 shells with man coverage underneath or zone. If this sounds familiar, it should. The Browns’ Dick Jauron runs a scheme with similarities to that of the Bengals’ Mike Zimmer.
I took a bullet for everyone and managed to sit through the Browns vs. Eagles match up in Week 1, which was an ugly scene for anyone who enjoys offense. What I gleaned shined a light on how the Bengals will win Round 1 of the Battle of Ohio.
Bengals’ Offense vs. Browns’ Defense
Although the Browns ran a fairly even amount of Cover 1 and Cover 2, expect to see more two-high safeties against the Bengals without the outstanding Joe Haden available at cornerback for the Browns. Without Haden in the line-up, the Browns will likely roll a safety on top of A.J. Green all day in order to bracket him in coverage.
No matter, because Andrew Hawkins will be set up quite well to build on his outstanding Week 1 performance. While Mike linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is a run-stuffing thumper, his instincts in coverage can not make up for his slow feet. He is a holdover from the Browns’ old 3-4 defense, which favors a stouter linebacker.
Hawkins will work the middle, find holes in coverage and Dalton will try to lead him into space for opportunities to add yards after the catch. Armon Binns also had a strong performance with his wise-beyond-his-years route-running and will be a nice, big target for Dalton to hit under pressure. So would Jermaine Gresham if he can shake off the cobwebs and show up strong this week.
The Bengals could take to heart one of the techniques that the Eagles used to open up running lanes. As shown in the picture, the Browns often remained in their 4-3 base defense even against three- and four-receiver sets. By spreading out the defense, the Eagles were able to more easily open up running lanes for LeSean McCoy.