The Final Word
As I’m watching the Bengals/Broncos MNF game, I’m reminded that screens can actually be used to defuse a dynamic upfield rush. The Bengals have run an assortment of screens to their backs from the shotgun set to keep Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware from wrecking the game.
In contrast, offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak showed a major lack of recognition to call a steady diet of screens despite the Texans’ propensity to bring extra rushers and rush with abandon all game long.
The few moments they did screen — the slip screen to Torrey Smith, the quick one-step drop ghost screen to Steve Smith, and the times they connected to Forsett underneath — they were successful.
On top of the lack of screens, there was minimal use of draws, counters, or pitches to slow down the Houston assault. When the Texans kept bringing A-gap blitzes up the gut, it’s a mystery as to why the outside running game wasn’t tapped into.
Even if someone wanted to make the argument that the Texans blitzed way more than anyone would have anticipated, the Houston rush — especially on a fast track in NRG Stadium — was going to be a problem that required a sound game plan to overcome. That meant moving the pocket, getting Flacco to throw on the run, and changing the launch point.
Instead, Flacco was a sitting duck behind an offensive line that was falling apart at the seams…
In a game full of disappointments, there were some positives. Amazingly those positives came from the secondary.
Rashaan Melvin played well for a second game in a row. He recovered nicely after giving up a deep strike to Andre Johnson on the first play from scrimmage to lock down the right side of the field the rest of the game.
What I like most about Melvin — besides his coverage technique and physical skills — is that he throws his body around and has a nose for the football. The best play he made was diving head first to take on a block and crash a run play moving to his side.
The undrafted cornerback is a legitimate find for the front office.
On the other side of the field, Lardarius Webb has picked up his play over the last three games, to the point in which opposing quarterbacks haven’t tested him much. He is moving around much better, showing the ability to flip his hips quickly and track the ball.
On a breakup of a fade pass in the end zone, Webb showed perfect recognition playing the ball and the man at the same.
It’s too bad this corner tandem wasn’t together earlier in the season…
As I wrap up this article, the Bengals are pulling off a playoff-clinching win against Denver. Outside of any playoff win they could have had, this is arguably the biggest statement win for the Dalton-led teams, especially in a primetime appearance.
What does that mean for the Ravens?
They need a surging San Diego team to come to a screeching halt in Kansas City. That is, if the Ravens can even pull out a win against the Browns. With both starting offensive tackles on crutches after the Houston game, who knows what to expect?
Baltimore still has a shot but the odds are getting longer than Jeremy Hill’s 85-yard TD run to shock the Broncos.