After this run fake last week against the Colts, Johnson had beating cornerback Vontae Davis off the line. Davis was in trail position, recovering decently enough to be within striking distance. The safety has the tight end in coverage down low in this blitzing, Cover 0 look, which means Johnson has nothing but open field between him and the goal line.
Schaub is under pressure, however, and does not set his feet when he makes the throw. Despite Johnson adjusting, Davis drives upfield and makes the play on the underthrown ball. Much like the Bengals’ own quarterback, Schaub is most effective when he has a clean pocket, clear passing lanes and the ability to set his feet. The Bengals’ pass rush, especially Atkins in the interior, will provide the disruptive pressure that can force some errant throws, despite Johnson’s ability.
When the Bengals have the ball, J.J. Watt will be the main focus. Kevin Zeitler is going to handle Watt much better than Mike McGlynn did last season, and the Bengals probably agree. Indianapolis lined up with their tight end to the left in running situations in order to pull Watt to the backside. That might be an understandable technique occasionally, but Zeitler matches up against Watt much better than Clint Boling.
On what was originally ruled a fumble until it was overturned, the Texans’ multiple fronts and looks designed to create confusion did exactly that. Watt uses his underrated quickness to stunt and find himself isolated against the running back. That is a battle that Watt will always win, as he did in this case.
The biggest argument for giving Kyle Cook the start at center is how many different looks and disguises that the Texans use. In fact, they are outstanding at last minute adjustments to their defense as one of the headiest and well-disciplined units in the league.
Like any team, the Colts tried to take advantage of a Cover 2 look by checking into a running play. After the audible, Reggie Wayne motions closer to the line of scrimmage to help block, which signals the Texans to automatically check into a Cover 3 defense. The Bengals use this tactic, as well, and should be aware the Texans ability to automatically make adjustments due to their well-coached play. Disguised defenses and stunts as well as even fronts are all possible.
Even though this is from last year’s game, this passing concept is one the Bengals still love to run out of play action in a heavy front. They isolate Green to the outside against a single-high safety look. They motion the receiver (or, often the case this season, move tight end Orson Charles) into a wingback position, where he fakes a run block on the play action.
This motion, of course, will force the Texans into a single-high look. With their decimated inside linebacking corps, the Bengals will try to take advantage of their inexperience with this concept. Green runs a skinny post, which will be open underneath with the linebacks being drawn in by the run fake. Jermaine Gresham will run a dig route across the safety’s face to pull him away from Green. Based on the safety’s reaction, Dalton will hit either Green or Gresham, but the primary target is Green.
With a fortified offensive line, another year of experience for Dalton and Green, and the presence of Hall, the Bengals have many reasons to feel optimistic about beating a team that is eerily similar in both scheme and personnel.