On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns’ take on the Cincinnati Bengals. To help preview a few topics from the Bengals’ perspective, we reached out to Patrick Judis from Cincy Jungle and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: “I was worried in the past about Joe Burrow — not because of his talent, but how long he’d survive behind the Bengals’ offensive line. I know the Bengals are winning games, but has that offensive line improved much?”
Patrick: “When I answer this people have to keep in mind how bad the offensive line was last season. The Bengals sustained several injuries to their offensive line to the point that one week they had to start Quinton Spain at guard despite just claiming him off the waiver wire. He would go on to start at three different positions that season to cover for other injuries.
The offensive line is worlds better, which is to say they are right around average. They are getting better every week though. Getting Frank Pollack to come back as the offensive line coach has been huge, and replacing Bobby Hart with Riley Reiff has been like night and day at right tackle. General good health along the line *knock on wood* has also kept this team from having to test its depth which is currently made up of some pretty young players.”
Chris: “Staying with Burrow, even though he has 20 touchdown passes, he’s also thrown 9 interceptions. Tell us a little about the context of those interceptions: are they bad decisions, misplays by receivers, etc?”
Patrick: “Burrow has been as advertised so far during his time with the Bengals. We have seen moments where he makes you just drop your jaw. Some of the give and take with that is he really tries a little too hard to make plays sometimes. A couple of his throws have been tossing it up into coverage hoping his receiver could make a play.
He has also had some unfortunate luck with defensive players just making outstanding plays like last week when the defender tipped a pass going out to a wide receiver screen and had the ability to get underneath it and pick it.
Overall, it really just seems like growing pains. Nothing that worries me in the long-term.”
Chris: “What has been the Bengals’ biggest weakness on defense?”
Patrick: “This defense has really been the backbone of this team this season. Last week it really seemed like the game plan was rotten and put the players in bad positions all game.
What is crazy is I don’t think there is a glaring weakness on this defense. The defensive line has seen D.J. Reader and Larry Ogunjobi really stuff the inside run that really troubled this team in the passing game.
Linebacker Logan Wilson will have to have a bounce back game this week. Cleveland will obviously be running it early and often. Up until last week I wouldn’t have had a doubt he’d be able to take care of it. However, last week he had issues getting to the boundary and missed quite a few tackles.
Other than that, the defense has solid to good players at just about every position.”
Chris: “Besides Ja’Marr Chase, who has been Cincinnati’s most impressive rookie?”
Patrick: “I feel like since defensive end Joseph Ossai went down in the preseason with an injury, it has to be Jackson Carman.
At first when he was inserted as the starter he really struggled and looked like he would be a liability. He has really gotten better and better. He still has a few bad reps, but they are becoming fewer and farther between.”
Chris: “Tell us about one player who Browns fans may not have heard of, but who could have an impact on this Sunday’s game.”
Patrick: “I’m going to cheat. I have an offensive and defensive player. Chidobe Awuzie has exceeded expectations at the corner position. He came in and replaced William Jackson, and you could argue he has been better. He has also been tested early and often. He has been up to the challenge most of the time. Baker Mayfield could be in for a rude awakening if he tests him.
Offensively, C.J. Uzomah has been the heart and soul of this offense as one of the few veteran players at the skill position. It has become pretty clear that teams are more worried about stopping Chase, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon, which has given Uzomah space to succeed offensively. He has five touchdowns in the last five games.”
Thanks again to Patrick taking the time to answer my questions.