Bengals News

Week in Review: Bengals/Falcons Recap of Starters

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The Cincinnati Bengals saw their players drop like flies last week against the Jets and it may have caused some concern among fans, but the team did not pause or look back. Instead the Bengals picked up right where they left off last week with stifling play from the starting defensive unit and a continuation of offensive progression against the Atlanta Falcons in week 2 of the preseason.

There are several notes and two main highlights to observe in this game, one on the defensive side of the ball and the other on the offensive side.

On defense the Bengals came out strong. They pressured Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and brought the running game to a halt.

The first defensive series of the game was a glimmer of hope for things to come this season for the Bengals. Defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Domata Peko stole the show as they blasted threw Atlanta’s offensive line and swarmed the ball.

This series was so good it deserves a play-by-play breakdown:

1st play – Matt Ryan passes to fullback Mike Cox for a 7 yard gain, tackled by Manny Lawson.

2nd play – Ryan hands the ball off to Michael Turner. Geno Atkins disrupts the play getting into the backfield to tackle Turner so fast you might think he was Atlanta’s fullback. Turner is brought down for -4 yards.

3rd play – Although Ryan completed a pass to TE Tony Gonzalez for 21 yards, he was flushed out of the pocket by Domata Peko.

4th play – Turner rushed for a mere 2 yards off the left guard. Who was there to bring him down? Domata Peko.

5th play – Ryan completes a 5 yard pass to Turner for 5 yards. He was hurried by Geno Atkins who was the only Bengals player anywhere close to Ryan.

6th play – The Bengals caught Matt Ryan sleeping. He didn’t pick up the blitz and was flushed out of the pocket and forced to dump the ball off short to Gonzalez for a 2 yard gain. When you watch this play you have to imagine that if Carlos Dunlap were in his starting spot instead of Jamaal Anderson that play would’ve ended in a punishing sack as Ryan rolled out to Dunlap’s usual side. Dunlap did not play as he battles an injury.

Another notable highlight from the defense was FS Reggie Nelson flying around the field making everyone who touched the ball in his vicinity pay. Nelson looked like he wanted to knock someones head off their neck as he finished with 4 tackles.

DE Michael Johnson saved a Falcons touchdown near the beginning of the 2nd quarter. After getting drawn into the backfield when Atlanta ran a screen to their RB near the goal line, Johnson remembered his fundamentals like a good veteran should and got his hands up to deflect Ryan’s pass. This was Ryan’s first incompletion of the game.

Also, I’ve never been a big fan of Taylor Mays and I’m starting to think his teammates won’t be either if he doesn’t stop leading blindly with his head into opposing players only to collide with one of his own teammates who is already in the process of wrapping the ball carrier up and bringing them to the ground.

Last week vs. the New York Jets he nearly gave himself a concussion when he banged his helmet into fellow Bengal defensive back Terence Newman as Newman was bringing down Jets WR Stephen Hill. This week he knocked LB Vontaze Burfict out of the game in a mirroring situation.

The highlight of the starting offense for the Bengals was obviously A.J. Green‘s touchdown reception. Just when I started to worry that facing premier corner backs in back-to-back weeks (Darrelle Revis and Asante Samuel) may cause Green to have a slow start he made Samuel pay for sitting on his route as he blazed past him with his amazing speed for a 50 yard TD.

The offense started off with a few bumps. Andy Dalton started picking it up when he stopped locking onto Green and spread the ball, which he did well. 4 out of his first 7 passes were intended for A.J. Green with only one completion (to Green).

He ended the night hitting 7 different receivers (Green, Jermaine Gresham, Armon Binns, Brandon Tate, Andrew Hawkins, Cedric Peerman, Donald Lee) out of eight he targeted. The only receiver he targeted that he didn’t connect with was TE Colin Cochart.

Another highlight for Dalton was just watching him operate in the pocket in general. When the pocket collapsed on him he looked as poised as any NFL veteran. Dalton looked like he never heard of the word fear.

Dalton showed the world tonight that arm strength is no issue. His presence in the pocket is outstanding and his pre-snap blitz pickups and decision making should continue to improve with every game.