clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Besides Myles Garrett, this one Bengals flaw might be why Browns defense has been successful

Zac Taylor’s shocking lack of usage, success is interesting

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

While fans and media can argue about the use of analytic data within football, it is clear that the data often provides something interesting for fans to help understand the game. Earlier we looked at simple data about explosive plays on offense and how the Cleveland Browns are third in the league. While that hasn’t led to wins, it tells a story about how the offense has performed.

Surprisingly in that data, we saw that the Cincinnati Bengals, the Browns opponent this week, were well down the list of big plays. The lack of a running game is a big piece of the reason why.

QB Joe Burrow hasn’t been successful, with zero wins, against Cleveland during his time in the league. DE Myles Garrett and turnovers have been a big reason why. Browns defenders have a ton of confidence this week based on their previous success.

Outside of the presence of Garrett, for which the Bengals have a new gameplan for this week, Zac Taylor’s lack of play-action passing may be the biggest reason for Cleveland’s success:

As you can see, Cincinnati’s offense both doesn’t run much playaction nor does it have much success when it does. Unlike New England, who are successful so they should run it more, the Bengals aren’t good at it so they don’t do it.

That makes things much easier for Browns defenders who can often struggle when having to make decisions. Often, Joe Woods’ group is out of position on play-action passes having already committed to the run or, after getting burnt, late in filling run gaps for fear of getting beat on a fake.

When Burrow takes the snap, defenders read their simple keys of run or pass and can, mostly, trust that they are right. If the quarterback extends the ball toward his running back, he is almost always giving him the ball.

That is a big advantage for a Cleveland defense that needs things to stay simple for them to be successful.

Are you surprised the Bengals rarely run play action and aren’t successful at it?