Analyzing the James Harrison conundrum

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Aug 17, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker James Harrison (92) on the sidelines in the third quarter of a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

 

It’s hard to find a lot to complain about after yesterday’s win over the Green Bay Packer,s but alas, as long as there are games to be played, there will always be areas to improve on and problems to solve, and one of them is regarding outside linebacker James Harrison.

It’s not like they couldn’t have used Harrison, who’s been among the league’s most-feared pass-rushers over the course of his career, whether it’s been in a two-point stance at his natural LB spot, or even in a three-point stance lined-up at defensive end, Dick LeBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers used him in a variety of ways in order to maintain one of the NFL’s best pass-rushing defenses while Harrison was there. With Robert Geathers out for the year, there were certainly more snaps available at DE, and with an already thin LB corps, surely Harrison was in-line for significant playing-time on Sunday, right?

Not so. Instead, the Bengals defense saw the majority of snaps go to three defensive ends and three linebackers:

 

 

Michael Johnson 70 86%
Carlos Dunlap 71 88%
Wallace Gilberry 42 52%

 

 
Vontaze Burfct 81 100%
Rey Maualuga 69 85%
James Harrison 5 6%
Vinnie Rey 0 0%
Taylor Mays* 25 31%
Jayson DiManche 0 0%
 * Played LB and CB
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