How AJ Green took over against the Baltimore Ravens

Film Room, Game Film, Gif Breakdowns, NFL

Mansur Shaheen

AJ Green stole the show on Thursday Night Football. The wide receiver reminded the league how talented he is by scoring three touchdowns in the first half of the Cincinnati Bengals 34-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Green finished the game with 5 receptions for 69 yards alongside his 3 scores.

Green’s first score came less than five minutes into the game.

The Ravens disguised their coverage – showing zone but playing man. Green was given inside leverage by the corner across from him which gave him an advantage on his crossing route. The linebackers playing in the shallow areas of the field were tricked way to easily by the fake toss and Green was able to get into space. Once the receiver had a step on his man with quarterback Andy Dalton already rolling out towards him the quick throw and catch was nothing more than a formality.

The second touchdown the receiver scored was a great example of his dominating physique and overall athleticism.

This was another play drawn up to get Green open and like the previous touchdown there was never any chance that the ball was being thrown in any other direction. The Bengals used a screen to earn Green space but an overthrown pass forced him to make an athletic play just to get the catch. He shook off a tackle and outran everyone to the endzone.

Green showed off his exceptional speed and athleticism for his size. It is rare that a receiver as big as he is can haul in that pass and be limber enough to still shake off a tackle and instantly take off downfield. Green is an athletic freak.

His third touchdown came on an isolation play.

Cincinnati drew up this play to force the Ravens safety into a tough decision. They made him choose between the flare route to the receiver over the middle or Green running towards the sideline in the endzone. You could argue he made the correct choice by playing the middle of the field. He forced Dalton into a tough back-shoulder throw. The pass was not perfect but Green made a great adjustment to snag it for a third touchdown.

It is easy to forget about Green when you think about some of the league’s elite receivers. He got a chance to shine in front of the eyes of the entire league Thursday night and took full advantage. The Bengals also did a great job scheming him open and putting both he and Dalton in a position to succeed. Green is an elite receiver and games like this should make sure that fans never forget that.

 

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Maclin burns the Bengals

Game Film, NFL, Quickhits

Mansur Shaheen

The Baltimore Ravens absolutely destroyed the Cincinnati Bengals during their week one match up. They held their NFC North rival in check as they won their opener 20-0. The game was a slow punt off for a majority of the first half until Jeremy Maclin finally broke the game open late in the first half with a long touchdown on a catch and run.

Cincinnati crowds the line of scrimmage to send the house on a third down blitz. Joe Flacco lines up in shot gun with two receivers spread out to his left, and another in the slot. The Bengals trust their corners immensely, as they leave them all one on one with absolutely no help what so ever in man coverage.

Baltimore runs a simple slant/flat combo, and Maclin breaks free from his man with help from a screen by another receiver. Flacco gets the ball to him quickly before the Bengals mass pass rush can do anything. Maclin makes the catch and is off to the races for a touchdown that changed the rest of the game.

 

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Quickhit: AJ Green Does it Again

NFL, Quickhits

Mansur Shaheen

The Bengals A.J. Green went off against the Dolphins on Thursday night, catching 10 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown. His most exciting moment in a game full of highlight plays occurred about half way through the first quarter. Quarterback Andy Dalton evaded the Dolphins ferocious pass rush, scrambled to his left and delivered a beautiful pass to Green while on the run. On the other end of the pass, Green leaped over corner Xavien Howard and came down with an athletic catch for a 51 yard gain.

Cincinnati ran the same play here that they ran week one for a deep touchdown to Green, and yet again executed it near perfectly.

Just like against the Jets, the success of the play depended on Brandon LaFell attracting the safety’s attention. Miami Saftey Reshad Jones was forced to step up into coverage in order to cover LaFell’s crossing route over the middle, and was not available to help over the top. LaFell had so much space, though, because majority of the Dolphins players that backed into coverage were not covering anyone.

presnap1

The Dolphins stacked 8 players in the box pre-snap, including safety Isa Abdul-Quddus. Both Neville Hewitt and Kiko Alonso dropped into shallow zone coverage, but the only two receivers that ran routes on the play were way too deep for either to be a factor on the play. Edge rushed Jason Jones also dropped back to contain Dalton on the offenses right side in case he scrambled.

presnap2

Miami attempted to overload the right side of the Bengals pass protecting, rushing four, while only sending Ndamukong Suh on the left side. The right side of the Bengals line was excellent on the play, holding back the rush, and running back Gio Bernard managed to deflect Abdul-Quddus.

Bernard’s block turned out to be crucial to the plays success. Suh quickly did away with Cedric Ogbuehi on the other side of the line, and Tight End Tyler Kroft was distracted by Jones. Suh would have had a free run at Dalton, if not for a block by Ryan Hewitt, who lined up as a Fullback on the play. Hewitt quickly turned around after seeing Abdul-Quddus dispatched by Bernard and managed to throw a crucial block on Suh. Dalton stepped up in the pocket,having space in front of him as the entire Dolphins front eight was now behind him and heaved it towards Green.

The biggest error on the play, though, was made by Dolphins corner Tony Lippet. Lippet is lined up about ten yards in front of LaFell when the ball is snapped, and right at the start of the play immediately begins to drop back. This is understandable as the Dolphins were playing zone coverage, but he should have come forward once he realized the LaFell was running a shallow route. He reacts way too late and removes himself from the play, forcing the Dolphins lone deep safety Jones to move further up the field to cover LaFell, allowing Green single coverage down the sideline. The coverage from the front seven, by Alonso, Jones and Hewit also takes some fault here. Jones may have been playing to contain Dalton but the two linebackers dropped back to cover nobody. They were way to shallow to cover any of the Bengals receivers, and were barley even a part of the play.

For the second time in three weeks the Bengals have had a huge play on the same play call. Both times it was due to a member of the teams secondary reacting late, springing Green free deep. Green is one of the more athletic receivers in the NFL, and can beat almost anyone in single coverage downfield. Saftey’s need to be more aware of Green on deep fade routes, but they need to depend on the coverage up the field to cover more shallow routes if they want the ability to freely drop back in coverage. A team as good as the Bengals will take advantage of any mistake an opponent makes, even if it’s just a corner dropping a few too many steps back.

 

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How the Bengals burned the Jets

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How the Bengals Burned the Jets

Gif Breakdowns, NFL

Mansur Shaheen

Despite the efforts of the New York Jets defensive line to beat up and harass Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton Sunday, the Jets secondary still managed to get repeatedly beaten deep, eventually costing the Jets the game. The Jets secondary got torched throughout, and mistakes by multiple players costed them in the end.

Play One:

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Andy Dalton 56 yard pass to CJ Uzomah

The Bengals lined up in a three receiver set, with AJ Green (#18) lined up on top against the Jets Darrelle Revis (#24). Alongside Green is Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd (#83), alone on the other side for the Bengals of the field is Brandon LaFell (#11). Dalton is the backfield with Jeremy Hill (#32), with CJ Uzomah (#87) lined up on the end of the left side of the line.

The Jets line up with a lone safety, Marcus Gilchrist (#21), with his fellow safety Calvin Pryor (#25) lined up as a “Money Back” alongside linebackers Darron Lee (#50) and David Harris (#52). Buster Skrine (#41) lines up across Boyd.

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The Bengals ran a simple “4 vert” play with Jeremy Hill running an out route. Hill gets picked up by Harris immediately, but Dalton’s focus was down field. The Jets secondary used man coverage, and Gilchrist began to tread towards his right, most likely attracted by AJ Green. Pryor and Lee both immediately pick up Uzomah, but Pryor shifts his attention towards LaFell, who is also being covered by Williams. This leads to a mismatch between Uzomah and Lee, and Lee gets beaten down field.

Dalton completes the pass to Uzomah around the 45 yard line, Williams whiffs on his tackle attempt, Lee misses an open field tackle and Skrine gets nudged from behind by Boyd throwing him off-balance causing him to also miss. Williams eventually recovers and makes the tackle, but not before a 56 yard gain by the Bengals.

What Went Wrong

Pryor’s decision to cover LaFell was questionable at best. LaFell is faster than Pryor, and he was lined up in the box, giving LaFell a huge head start anyways. Williams was well positioned to deal with LaFell from the snap, and covered LaFell well on his route. Gilchrist also made a mistake at the beginning of the play, instantly going towards Green, leaving the entire middle of the field open, and allowing Uzomah to run straight down the middle for a huge gain.  Right after the catch, Williams chose to play the ball instead of going for a safe tackle and missed leading to Uzomah doing even more damage.

Play 2

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Andy Dalton 54 yard touchdown pass to AJ Green

The Bengals line up in another three receiver set, with Boyd and Green at the top of the screen and LaFell alone at the bottom. Uzomah is on the right end of the line. Dalton is now under center with Gio Bernard (#25) in the backfield.

Skrine is initially lined up on Green, with Revis on Boyd, but Boyd motions towards the bottom, and he shifts over allowing Revis to cover Green. Williams is yet again on LaFell. Lorenzo Mauldin (#55) and Harris are the Jets edge defenders, both playing man coverage. Their counterpart, Darron Lee is in zone coverage. Calvin Pryor is lined up as a deep safety.

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As Boyd motions left before the snap the Jets shift their assignments putting Skrine into zone coverage alongside Lee. Dalton runs a play fake to Bernard, and Bernard runs into the flat to be picked up by Harris, Mauldin picks up Boyd on the opposite flat. LaFell runs a crossing route over the middle, as Green runs a vertical. Revis does a good job keeping up with Green, and with help from Pryor should have taken away Dalton’s deep option.

Unfortunately for Revis, the rest of the Jets and their collective fan base, Pryor was lost on the play. Pryor begins to back pedal after the snap, but was distracted by LaFell running through the middle of the field. There is a split second where Pryor is literally just standing there as AJ Green runs by him, and he and Revis are beaten for a deep touchdown.

What Went Wrong

A lot of the obvious blame goes on to Pryor. He falls asleep of the play and allows Green to go right by him. The Jets also made another mistake in coverage up the field though. Both Skrine and Lee are covering the middle of the field, and neither drop back to help Williams on LaFell. If Lee had dropped back towards LaFell, Pryor could have focused entirely on Green and possibly forced Dalton elsewhere, maybe towards Boyd who had room in the flat, but was staring down Mauldin.

Play 3

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Andy Dalton 49 yard pass to Brandon LaFell

 

After losing eight yards on first down and an incompletion on second, the Bengals elected to hurry in to their next snap. On a third and 18 play the Bengals rushed their snap and caught the entire Jets defense (and CBS who was late coming out of a game break) off guard. The Jets entire defensive line was caught standing and the secondary took a moment to find their bearings after the ball was snapped.

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LaFell sprinted down the sideline and found himself in single coverage against Williams who he easily beat one on one. Pryor was the lone safety and was way too far away to have an effect on the play. If LaFell had gotten away from Williams it would have been an easy score.

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From this angle you can see every single member of the Jets defensive line getting to the line late, and getting caught off by the snap.

What Went Wrong

The Jets were not at all lined up for this play and an execution error costed them heavily. They would never recover on the drive as the Bengals continued to push the tempo before eventually scoring a touchdown.

Play 4

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Andy Dalton 32 yard pass to AJ Green

Sometimes a great player is just going to make an amazing play and that’s what happened here. Green runs a fly down the sideline, and he amazingly catches a well placed ball by Dalton. Even with Revis on top of him, Green completes the catch. Revis might have been able to do better, but this play is more attributed to the athletic ability of Green not a mistake by Revis.

 

 

Despite giving up a few big plays throughout the game, the Jets nearly won their week one match-up against the Bengals, falling on a late field goal. The Jets secondary, though, has a lot to work on during the short week heading into their Thursday night match-up against the Bills. Their pass coverage was awful, with every defensive back, save none other than Calvin Pryor, playing terribly throughout the game. Pryor, as mentioned earlier, made a few key mistakes that heavily costed the team marring what might have been a decent performance for him. The Jets do have a lot to look forward too, though. The Bills are not nearly the team that the Bengals are in terms of offensive weapons, and their front seven did its job of shutting down the run and pressuring Dalton when he dropped back to pass, accumulating seven sacks.

 

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