Week in Review: Film Study: Bratkowski’s Back as Bengals Face Familiar Nemesis

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Running Game

As Bratkowski and Mularkey have increasingly abandoned the trap-play runs that they relied upon in Pittsburgh, the Bengals have a short list of two running plays they need to defend. Unlike the Bengals under Bratkowski, the Jaguars offer a far more dynamic running back in Jones-Drew that can make those plays far more dynamic.

The Bratkowski version of the zone run resembles a power-blocking run as much as the zone plays that Houston and Washington run, with the linemen often blocking with a pre-determined assignment. The ability of Jones-Drew to cut back any play offers a danger that the Bengals have not seen since facing Arian Foster last season, and can pose a great problem to the Bengals over-pursing and poor-tackling linebackers.

Like with Bernard Scott against the Raiders in 2009, the Jaguars run almost exclusively the same two zone-esque running plays repeatedly. The Bengals ability to maintain their gap responsibility is paramount, but easier said than done.

Like that Raiders game, the Jaguars run an inordinate amount of runs behind their left tackle, Monroe. Unlike the Bengals in 2009, the Jaguars offer more twists than just the bucket-step, seal off your man technique.

Because Bratkowski prefers an h-back than can line up at the wing, in-line or in the backfield, those players often play a role within the passing game that is block first, release for a pass as a second option. In the running game, those h-backs perform a different role.

Instead of running ahead of the back as a lead through the hole, Marcedes Lewis and company align to the outside to stretch defenders further and provide more lanes for cutbacks. Like vintage Bratkowski, they often motion into their position in order to manipulate defenders.

A run more often used is the counter, ran in a similar manner as the standard Brat running play, but with the backside tackle sealing off his defender instead of blocking down. This causes the defenders to over pursue based on the play they have become accustomed to, which will especially perplex the Bengals’ linebackers.

The Jaguars will use the Bengals’ eagerness to stop the run into constraint plays like draws and screens. Staying patient and not over committing, like they did adequately against the Redskins, will be sufficient to keep the Bengals in the game.

But if the Bengals can let their defensive front create havoc in the backfield, their linebackers can more easily put themselves in position to make tackles than they could against the less predictable run-blocking lineman of the Redskins. With the Bengals’ offense clicking on all cylinders, Jones-Drew does not to be, in the words of Dan Patrick, need to be stopped, only contained.

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