CIN-BAL Grades: Burfict shines in Bengals’ season finale
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Bengals’ 24-16 win over the Ravens.
– It is rather hard to evaluate quarterback A.J. McCarron’s (-1.6) Week 17 performance, as he was not asked to do a lot in the Cincinnati offense. McCarron was your typical game manager quarterback in this contest, and he attempted only five passes 10 or more yards downfield from the line of scrimmage. As a result, it can be a bit deceiving that he was on target on 82.6 percent of his throws, as most of them were easier passes, and the fact that he even failed to connect on a couple of short passes led to a negative grade, eventually.
– On the other hand, although, they saw relatively limited action, Cincinnati running backs look promising with the playoff coming up this week. Jeremy Hill (+0.9) and Giovani Bernard (+0.9) both earned positive grades, and averaged exactly 6.0 yards per carry. While Hill stood out with his burst, as he averaged 4.1 yards before contact, Bernard was more elusive and averaged 4.5 yards after contact, and also forced two missed tackles on only six carries.
– On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Vontaze Burfict (+4.8) finished the regular season on a high note, as he earned his highest grade of the 2015 season against the Ravens. Burfict graded positively in all three facets of the game, as he recorded two quarterback hits on only 10 pass rushing snaps, and performed well against the run, also. However, he was at his best in pass coverage, which was a key in this game due to the Ravens’ passing game that rather focused on short passes than stretching the field vertically. Burfict was targeted a team-high 11 times, and while he did allow six receptions, they went for only 50 yards. In addition, he recorded two interceptions, and almost had a third when he jumped a route, but was only able to bat the pass down.
LB Vontaze Burfict +4.8
LB Rey Maualuga +2.3
CB Adam Jones +1.9
DE Carlos Dunlap +1.8
CB Chris Lewis-Harris +1.0
– Although quarterback Ryan Mallett (-6.5) earned some praise on social media and from the commentators during the game, he put together one of the worst quarterback performances in Week 17. He played relatively well when he was not under pressure, as he completed 65 percent of his passes for 252 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions on these dropbacks. However, he significantly struggled under pressure, which eventually led to the Ravens’ loss yesterday. Mallett recorded a passer rating of 0.0 on passes under pressure, as he completed only 25 percent of his passes for 40 yards on these plays, and also made two ill-advised decisions that led to interceptions. Also, the quarterback failed to complete any of his five passes 20 or more yards downfield.
– Actually, it was not even the case that Mallett had to play a lot under pressure, as all five of his offensive linemen earned positive grades and combined to allow one sack, one hit, and seven hurries. The unit was, yet again, led by star right guard Marshal Yanda (+4.6), who allowed two hurries but made up for it with his work in the run game, which earned him a +4.4 run blocking grade.
– Rookie edge rusher Za’Darius Smith (+3.0) had an up-and-down year; however, he finished the season with a very promising performance. Smith was solid in run defense, and he was a real force rushing the passer. While he needed to go up against one of the best left tackles in the game in Andrew Whitworth (-2.1), Smith did not back down, and had success against the Bengals’ LT. Smith recorded one sack and two quarterback hurries, and all came as he bullrushed Whitworth into the backfield.
RG Marshal Yanda +4.6
DE Timmy Jernigan +3.0
OLB Za’Darius Smith +3.0
OLB Elvis Dumervil +2.8
DE Lawrence Guy +2.5