Bengals Film Study: Haden's Return Not Enough to Stop Cincinnati

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Dalton hits Hawkins, who finds a gaping hole in coverage and takes it to the house for a 50-yard score.

Against man coverage again, Dalton checks into the almost the same play from a different formation.  This time the safeties play a Cover 2 shell, with the strong safety bailing before the play. Binns breaks off his route accordingly into a comeback, and Green tries to work the sideline.

With another blitz coming up the middle, Gresham runs a hot route to the flat, drawing a linebacker with him. This isolates Hawkins in the middle of the field again running the whip route. The blitz flushes Dalton from the pocket, and Hawkins’ defender lets his eyes wander into the backfield and loses track of Hawkins.

Hawkins just sits down and gives Dalton a target and a lesson to the cornerback to keep his eyes out of the backfield.

Dalton zips the ball through a small space to hit Green through zone coverage. The ball bounces off Green’s hands for an interception, but it demonstrates Dalton’s increased velocity and confidence.

For all the talk about Dalton’s arm strength, he did miss a couple deep throws against the Browns’ man coverage. But on his interception, Dalton showed that it’s velocity, not distance, that is the truest indicator of his improved arm strength.

When Dalton throws this pass, he has to thread the needle on a pass over 20 yards. With two defenders in a position to get their hands on the ball, Dalton slings it with enough velocity to hit Green. Although it was a little behind Green, Dalton had to put the ball there without an easy interception.

The ball does bounce of Green’s hands and the safety makes an acrobatic, diving catch to get the pick. But, more importantly, Dalton has improved his velocity and his confidence, despite a slow start, is reassuring. If the Browns do end up playing more of the deep zone, then Dalton will have to fit it through a tight window every now and again.

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