ReFo: Bengals @ Ravens, Week 1
There are few better games to kick-off the season than Cincinnati against Baltimore. These two AFC North rivals love to play physical football and Sunday was no different. While defenses took control for the majority of the game, the second half of the fourth quarter saw a couple of big plays which shaped the outcome. First the Ravens took the lead on a third and 14 where Adam Jones inexplicably allowed Steve Smith to get behind him. Andy Dalton showed his composure in response however, tossing an 80 yard strike to AJ Green to retake the lead. Baltimore came close to tying the game too, driving all the way down into the redzone, but a pair of sacks by Wallace Gilberry was enough to give them the win. Let’s take a look at some individual performances.
Cincinnati Bengals – Performances of Note
Russell Bodine, C: -1.7
Breakdown: Bodine accounted himself fairly well in his first NFL game. This year’s fourth round pick had a tough test against an excellent interior Ravens front but can be pretty happy with his performance. There were some mistakes, especially in the run game (-1.3) but a perfect day in pass protection gives him something to build on. In truth his perfect day was only saved by a pressure he allowed being negated by a hold but overall he was only at -0.5 in that department.
Signature Stat: Bodine had a 100% pass blocking efficiency on 43 dropbacks.
Vontaze Burfict, WLB: +3.2
Breakdown: I was among those who questioned whether Burfict could become a good NFL player. On this evidence he certainly can. Despite playing just 23 snaps, he recorded two stops in the run game, a hit as a pass rusher and gave up just three catches on five targets for 18 yards and a pass deflection (with another stop) in coverage. Bengals fans will hope the injury he suffered forcing him to leave the field was only minor because it appears he’s becoming a real force for this defense.
Signature Stat: With a pair of defensive stops in the run game in just seven snaps, Burfict is third in Run Stop Percentage (28.6%) among 4-3 outside linebackers.
Terrence Newman, CB: -3.6
Breakdown: After appearing to wear down in Dallas, Newman has enjoyed something of a renaissance in his new home. This game though, proves a worrying sign for a corner entering his late thirties. Newman played too soft in coverage and failed to contribute in the run game. Overall he allowed seven of ten targets to be complete for 62 yards, including four first downs, while committing a pass interference penalty and missing two tackles. In run defense he was partly responsible for the Ravens converting a fourth-and-one, losing outside contain and allowing Flacco the edge, as well as being sealed on another outside run.
Signature Stat: Newman gave up 0.94 yards per cover snap.
Baltimore Ravens – Performances of Note
Kelechi Osemele, LG: +4.7
Breakdown: Osemele is undoubtedly one of my favourite offensive linemen to watch. Watch him get to the second level and you’ll see why. There are times when he just blows linebackers backwards. You’ve seen the Michael Oher block in the Blind Side, well this is the real life NFL version. Go to 9.45 in the second quarter or 4.14 in the fourth to see some serious blocking. Osemele’s +2.7 run blocking grade was easily the highest of either team and to top it off he was perfect in pass protection on 68 dropbacks.
Signature Stat: Osemele leads all guards in Pass Blocking Efficiency through Week 1.
Daryl Smith, ILB: -2.7
Breakdown: Tough start for Smith in his second season as a Raven. After a mixed first year in Maryland, where he was excellent in coverage but struggled against the run, Smith continued his uneven play. The adjustment from 4-3 outside linebacker to 3-4 inside linebacker isn’t always seamless and injuries and age may have taken their toll. Smith struggled in particular with lineman getting to the second level and confounded a poor performance against the run by allowing 43 yards on three completions from four targets.
Signature Stat: The 14.3 average yards per reception is seventh worst amongst 3-4 inside linebackers.
Terrell Suggs, OLB: +3.6
Breakdown: Suggs can still play, and he proved it against the Bengals. The stat sheet shows just the solitary hurry but the tape shows a different story. On a number of occasions Suggs immediately beat an offensive lineman, only for Dalton’s quick release to save him from recording pressure. Marshall Newhouse’s first live game action for the Bengals featured him looking a little silly as he was beaten inside right off the snap. It wasn’t just him either with Kevin Zeitler and Andre Smith both beaten by Suggs at various stages.
Signature Stat: Suggs’ two defensive stops in 19 run snaps leaves him tenth overall among 3-4 outside linebackers.
Kelechi Osemele was not only the best player on the field but he did his work in style.
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