On Green’s 22-yard reception in the third quarter, the Bengals continue to become more creative in how they line up Green. With a still-developing support cast, that is going to continue to be a challenge. Here he motions behind Gresham, who is split outside to the left. As big as Gresham is, it is going to be impossible to jam Green.
Green and Gresham both run slants against another Cover 2 man look. With Hawkins in the slot opposite drawing the free safety up field, the strong safety is forced to watch the middle of the field and respect Gresham’s ability to make big plays down the seam. Without any contact at the line, Green blows past Rodgers-Cromartie and off to a big gain.
And, of course, on the Green touchdown catch the play call was a perfect number for Green in the red zone. A floating pass and fade route to the corner is a pretty fail safe play. But this was easier than others for a few reasons besides Green’s ridiculous ball skills.
Both safeties are cheating down towards the line to cover the tight ends. Towards Green’s side, he is playing more towards middle of the field in deference to Gresham. Green has a large area in which to work and makes an outstanding grab, boxing out his defender.
But beyond that, a run fake made the play as easy as it was. Dalton did not fully fake then handoff, but Gresham executed the best run fake. As the play developed, the line fired out of their stances, and Gresham cut blocked the defensive end. As Green-Ellis charged towards the edge, the safety played the run and guaranteed a one-on-one matchup outside.
So it is not all bad, but certainly not great. Flexibility in the game-planning and play-calling have helped mask other deficiencies, but they still must be executed better to beat a Steelers team with their backs to the wall.