CLE-CIN Grades: Bengals coast to 8-0 against Browns
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Bengals’ 31-10 victory over the Browns:
– Much of the talk around the Bengals’ unbeaten run to start the season has been related to the play of Andy Dalton and Tyler Eifert on offense, but Cincinnati’s defense has been bolstered by a return to form from Geno Atkins. After a couple of quiet games, Atkins (+3.4) returned to his early season form, recording five pressures (two sacks, three hurries), topping four pressures for the sixth time in eight games, and earning his second-highest run defense grade of the season.
– Five targets from Andy Dalton (+1.8) led to three touchdown catches for Tyler Eifert (+2.5), as this duo took Eifert’s touchdown total for the season to nine after just eight games. Two of the touchdowns were caught against safety Tashaun Gipson (-1.5), while Eifert capped off his night leaving Tramon Williams (-1.6) in his wake on a double-move for his third score. Dalton shook off some of the doubts about his ability to perform during primetime games last night, but he will have to do so against sterner competition before those doubts are fully answered.
– Just another day at the office with no pressure allowed for Bengals’ LT Andrew Whitworth (+4.6), the fifth time this season he has pitched a shutout in pass protection, with now only four hurries allowed in eight games. After struggling as a run blocker against the Steelers last week, which saw him earn his first negative game grade since Week 11 last season, Whitworth returned to form with his highest single game grade in 14 games.
LT Andrew Whitworth (+4.6)
DT Geno Atkins (+3.4)
LG Clint Boling (+2.9)
TE Tyler Eifert (+2.5)
RG Kevin Zeitler (+2.2)
– All the focus for the Browns entering this game was on Johnny Manziel (-0.3), and although he was able to outperform his disastrous home start against the Bengals from Week 15 last season, this was not the kind of performance to reinvigorate a quarterback controversy in Cleveland. His receivers didn’t help him by dropping five passes—three by Taylor Gabriel (-4.1) alone—but Manziel did little to help himself, vacating clean pockets and bringing his eyes down too quickly to scramble on occasion, leading to unnecessary pressure. There were positives in this game, but still flaws that Manziel must eradicate if he is to get the keys to the offense.
– For the second week in a row, the left side of the Browns’ offensive line earned negative overall grades in the same game, with Joe Thomas (-2.0) and Joel Bitonio (-3.0) struggling in pass protection in particular. There were difficulties exchanging pass rushers on stunts; other times, they simply lost straight up to Cincinnati pass rushers. Thomas’ poor night was particularly noteworthy, as the seven pressures he allowed (all hurries) are the most he has allowed in a single game in his career since Week 16 of his rookie season (one hit, eight hurries), also in Cincinnati.
– En route to dropping their fourth consecutive game with a down night from their offensive line and a litany of poor performances on defense, optimism was thin on the ground for the Browns. One player to note, however, is rookie safety Ibraheim Campbell (+1.3), who put in a solid performance during his first career start. The Browns’ fourth-round pick added two stops to the three he recorded in his NFL debut on Sunday against the Cardinals, earning back-to-back positive game grades to begin his career on defense after only featuring on special teams until Sunday.
RG John Greco (+2.6)
RT Mitchell Schwartz (+2.5)
S Ibraheim Campbell (+1.3)
OLB Paul Kruger (+0.9)
HB Duke Johnson (+0.7)