SD-CIN: Bengals’ offensive line posts shutout in win
The top takeaways from Sunday’s San Diego-Cincinnati game, including the highest-graded players for each team:
San Diego Chargers
– The Chargers have a whole new interior offensive line this season after adding free agent guards Orlando Franklin (-4.1) and Chris Hairston (-5.1). This was a day to forget for the pair, though, after they combined for a -9.2 grade in this game. Franklin gave up two sacks and three hurries, after giving up just a single sack and 11 combined pressures in 2014. Hairston, meanwhile, gave up a single sack, but was also the Chargers lowest-graded run-blocker (-1.7) and gave up three penalties. It’s fair to say that the Bengals won the battle in the trenches when San Diego had the football on Sunday.
– Considering the struggles of the interior, Chargers running backs had impressive games against Cincinnati. Rookie first-rounder Melvin Gordon (+1.3 on 29 snaps) was decisive on his carries and showed the power that made him such an effective college back. He added three forced missed tackles on 16 attempts, and had an impressive 3.6 yards after contact per attempt. Gordon acts as a good compliment to Danny Woodhead (+2.6 on 32 snaps), who gained over five yards per carry and forced three combined missed tackles (one rushing, two receiving). The combination of Gordon and Woodhead will be a threat this season in both the run and pass game.
– The Chargers defense looked light on pass rushers coming into the season, and that’s proved to be the case through the first two games. LOLB Melvin Ingram (-5.2) had a terrible game against the Bengals. He was shutout as a pass rusher and committed a pair of penalties. In run defense, he made just a single stop but missed two tackles. Finally, he graded as the worst Charger in coverage with a -1.9 grade. Overall, it was a day to forget for Ingram, who has a lot of pressure on him to disrupt opposing QBs this season.
HB Danny Woodhead (+2.6)
LT King Dunlap (+2.1)
TE Ladarius Green (+1.9)
SS Jimmy Wilson (+1.6)
WR Stevie Johnson (+1.3)
WR Malcom Floyd (+1.3)
HB Melvin Gordon (+1.3)
– The performance of the Bengals’ offensive line was the polar opposite of the Chargers’. Rarely have we seen such a dominant performance by an offensive unit. The five starters combined for a +20.8 grade, with all players recording shutouts in pass protection. C Russell Bodine (+4.8) was the most effective offensive lineman in terms of run blocking, recording a +4.0 grade. He was the standout of a dominant group, however, with all lineman recording +1.0 grades or better. If the Bengals line continues to play like this, they’ll take all the pressure off Andy Dalton, which can only be a good thing.
– DT Geno Atkins (+5.1) might be back to his best. He was disruptive throughout the game against the Chargers and now has a +11.6 combined grade from just 99 snaps. Atkins did his best work in Week 2 as a pass rusher, recording two sacks and two hurries from just 26 run snaps. He also generated significant penetration against the run, even if he didn’t record as many tackles around the line of scrimmage that he would have liked. With Atkins in this sort of form, it’s no surprise the Chargers’ interior offensive line struggled.
– DE Wallace Gilberry (+2.8) was highly productive in his sub-package role against the Chargers. He recorded a pair of stops in just eight run defending snaps and recorded a sack, hit, and hurry in just 19 pass rush snaps. His task is to generate some consistency; too often in 2014, Gilberry followed up good games with poor ones. Gilberry exceeded the production of Michael Johnson, who had only a solitary hurry in 27 rush snaps and doesn’t look like the same player who had such a good season for the Bengals in 2013.
DT Geno Atkins (+5.1)
C Russell Bodine (+4.8)
RT Andre Smith Jr. (+4.6)
LG Clint Boling (+4.4)
LT Andrew Whitworth (+3.6)