On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns’ take on the Cincinnati Bengals. To help preview a few topics from the Bengals’ perspective, we once again reached out to Patrick Judis from Cincy Jungle and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: “When these two teams faced off in Week 2, I thought it was very impressive how well Joe Burrow threw the ball despite the beating he was taking as a result of poor pass protection. I know Burrow was destroyed by the Ravens a couple of weeks ago, but besides that game, how have things gone for the Bengals’ offensive line since their matchup with the Browns? Better, worse, or the same?”
Patrick: “It has been very inconsistent to say the least. Left tackle Jonah Williams has really found his footing, and he looks like he will be a starter for a long time. The real issue has been communication and relying on guys like right guard Alex Redmond and right tackle Bobby Hart a little too much in pass protection. They often either lose their battle or have a communication problem allowing a free rusher through without blocking anyone.
The thing Baltimore did plenty of was bring more people up to the line of scrimmage than could be accounted for. Then after the ball was snapped they would all rush, but the linebackers or safeties that got an offensive lineman to commit to them would then drop back into coverage. Meanwhile, the free rushers would take out Burrow. One adjustment we saw last week was bringing in running back Giovani Bernard more on passing downs as he is incredible in pass protection (just better than Joe Mixon there). It resulted in more situations where Burrow had time, but the rookie has also got to stop trying to leave the pocket too early. He left some plays out there by trying to create extra time escaping the pocket.”
Chris: “‘When was the last time A.J. Green has had a real impact on a game?’ is something I’ve heard quite a bit — last week, he had 8 catches for 96 yards. In the past, that would be a normal game for him, but after 6 games, it is by far his best statistical game of the year. Is there any hope for Green gaining some steam? Or was there anything visibly different about his performance against the Colts?”
Patrick: “So it has been my opinion that Green has been trying to play through the hamstring injury that he never fully recovered from during training camp. He simply hasn’t had that extra gear we are used to seeing from him, and most of the plays he runs seem to be slant routes or curls. He had a great game last week, but he dropped a deep pass down the field that Bengals fans know Green would’ve made countless times if he were 100 percent. Instead of going up for the ball at its highest point he tried to reach back and catch it at about knee height.
Green has yet to confirm his injury, but he did leave the Ravens game with what the team called a hamstring/soft tissue injury.
There is reason to believe that as teams stop committing their best coverage guys to Green every week that he will have the ability to have more games like last week. However, if he has to go against guys like Denzel Ward, then it will be tough sledding for him right now.”
Chris: “After a big start to the game the last time these two teams met, TE C.J. Uzomah is out for the year with an injury now. What have the Bengals done at tight end in his absence, and is it a downgrade?”
Patrick: “Drew Sample has taken on most of the burden of that injury. They were already basically splitting time prior to that. He is a second year player, and he has certainly looked like it. He was widely considered a blocking tight end when drafted, and that has certainly been where the team has gotten the most use from him (especially considering the state of the offensive line).
However, he has been inconsistent as a receiver. Most Bengals fans are critical of him for dropping a touchdown pass through his hands that eventually got intercepted by the Jaguars. That really seems unfair though considering he has also made some pretty nice plays when allowed to. There is certainly room for improvement at the position, though. It especially needs more depth.”
Chris: “The last time these two teams met, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined to average 6.5 YPC and had over 200 yards rushing. Obviously, the Bengals aren’t giving that up every single week, but has Cincinnati’s run defense shown any sign of improvement?”
Patrick: “The linebackers have certainly been playing better since then. Most of them were playing in only their second game of the season. However, injuries to defensive linemen like D.J. Reader and Sam Hubbard will be more apparent against an offensive line like the Browns this week. Still, safety Vonn Bell has also been more than capable of coming up and making big plays in the running game. It may come down to how willing these defenders are to take down Hunt run after run.”
Chris: “What is the outcome of this Sunday’s Battle of Ohio, Part 2?”
Patrick: “I am really tired of teams ‘on to Cincinnati-ing’ the Bengals. The schedule always seems to play out that Cincinnati faces teams after a tough or frustrating loss that has national media outlets doubting whether they are for real. It always seems to leave the Bengals getting a team playing with a little extra that week, and the Browns pop up with that the most.
I think this ends up being another game where both teams get into the 30’s, but simply put, the Browns offensive line will make this game so much easier for Baker Mayfield to make plays. Last time these teams met Mayfield was barely pressured all game. If that doesn’t change then it probably ends up as another game where Burrow hits a backdoor cover. I think that backs-against-the-wall mentality gives Cleveland a little extra this week, though. Bengals 31 Browns 41”
Thanks again to Patrick for taking the time to answer my questions.