While a win is a win, somehow Cincinnati’s offensive performance against Philadelphia made the final 34-13 victory not seem as convincing.
The Bengals sterling offensive line struggled to protect Andy Dalton. He traveled from one end of the spectrum, in which Dalton was criticized for getting rid of the ball too quickly, to the other end in which he seemed indecisive. Very often opportunities for big gains presented themselves. The red-zone hesitation was the most memorable, but in the brutal second quarter, both blocking and decision-making took a play off.
At the snap, left guard Clint Boling (circled) pitches in to help Trevor Robinson. At the right guard, Kevin Zeitler reaches to block Cullen Jenkins, who feints inside then stunts towards his right past left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who was tied up with the defensive end.
Aligned in the slot, Brian Leonard sees that his defender is staying in coverage, so he releases to the flat. They appeared to be in a man-blocking scheme, because Boling bales off of his block to follow Jenkins around the edge.
As he Boling dropped, Whitworth was bull rushed backwards and into Boling. Boling then lunges for the defensive end, so maybe Boling thought Leonard was staying in to block. Either way, the Cover 2 man defense that the Eagles ran most of the night is set up well for this route scheme.
In the slot to the right, Hawkins is going vertical, holding the safety inside. On the far outside to the right, A.J. Green has managed to muscle his way outside Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who would want to funnel him in to the safety help in that coverage.
With his release, Green has already beaten Rodgers-Cromartie, and Dalton should have noticed an unaccounted for pass rusher. He unfortunately held onto the ball a beat too, long, and Jenkins slapped the ball away mid-windup. With a decent throw, a big completion down the sideline to Green could have jump-started a slumbering offense.
Not that it is ever easy to miss a man tipping the scales at over 330 pounds, but Andre Smith spent quite a few minutes on camera with Brandon Graham beating him like a drum. Graham’s sudden explosiveness exposed Smith’s bad habit of letting his feet stop moving.
On this play, Smith picked up a holding penalty because his feet were in quicksand and was still beaten. Graham stopped like he would reverse direction to Smith’s inside shoulder, then took off towards the edge again. Smith had lunged inside, then lunged back outside, all without moving his feet.
Notice how far bent at the waist Smith is, there is no power that even a man his size has in that position.
But I will give credit where credit is due, and the offense did enough to not give cause to abandon all hope.