Whereas the Cincinnati Bengals offense rightfully will get a lot of the consideration, the Bengals protection has quietly grow to be one of many higher items in your complete league. The unit completed eighth in whole defensive EPA per play, and has given QBs like Patrick Mahomes issues earlier than.
On Sunday, the Bengals put collectively considered one of their finer defensive performances, holding the Buffalo Payments to 325 whole yards of offense and ten factors in a decisive 27-10 victory in a snowy Highmark Stadium. The explosive Payments passing offense was restricted to solely six completions over over ten air yards, and the Payments run sport was restricted to 52 whole yards.
Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has the Bengals defensive unit performing extraordinarily effectively on the proper time, and one of many issues Anarumo and the Bengals protection did to primarily fry the mind of Josh Allen and the Payments offense is disguising coverages and pressures.
Josh Allen was pressured on 26 of his 47 dropbacks, regardless of very hardly ever blitzing 5 or extra gamers on the identical time. What Anarumo did to confuse Allen and the Payments offense is deliver blitzers from totally different depths, whereas sustaining the protection shell of a extra tame protection.
This play was on one of many earlier drives of your complete sport, a 3rd down. The Bengals are in a 3-2-6 formation (3 down DL, 2 LBs, 6 DBs), however each linebackers are walked up in entrance of the uncovered linemen. This instantly shouts “blitz and canopy 1 behind it” to the Payments offense, much more so when the DB shadowing the receiver in movement goes with him. Then, the image adjustments on the snap. Cincinnati drops each LBs as gap defenders, taking away any crossing routes, and since they had been lined up with 5 males throughout the road of scrimmage, this provides the DL a one on one with their move rush matchup. So yeah, the Bengals play Cowl 1 behind it, however now there’s a number of guys within the intermediate home windows, blanketing each route.
The place Anarumo and the Bengals actually acquired into their bag was in bringing second stage defenders on blitzes, and the Bengals DBs had been up for the problem. Earlier than the ball was snapped on this Mike Hilton strain, that is what the image seemed like. Not precisely a blitz bundle.
Nevertheless, on the snap, the Bengals run a hearth zone blitz, the place a defensive again blitzes from the sphere, and the weakside defensive finish drops into protection. This not solely will get strain on the QB, nevertheless it additionally takes away the new path to prepare dinner and the TE away from the journeys facet. Mike Hilton will get an excellent soar on the snap, and Allen doesn’t even really feel the blitz coming, a blitz that he usually sees.
Right here, the Bengals ship two DBs, one from both sides, to get strain onto Allen. Once more, the pre-snap appears to be like mundane, however then when the ball is snapped, the image shifts shortly and forces Josh Allen into panic mode. The blitz to the sphere will get a DL free and forces Allen to bail, proper into the DB who doesn’t rush all the best way, to drive Allen into an errant throw.
Then, in crucial moments of the sport, the Bengals protection would present blitzes, then drop instantly, and drive Allen to rethink his total plan. This was an ideal instance of Anarumo breaking the mind of Allen and the Payments.
The Bengals will as soon as once more be taking up the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs within the AFC title, and whereas Patrick Mahomes is the most effective QB within the league, Anarumo may presumably take some ideas from the Payments sport and put them to make use of in opposition to Mahomes, who may nonetheless be hobbled.
Anarumo will probably be prepared, although, as a result of that’s what he all the time does: prepares his protection for any state of affairs.