PFF Preview: Bengals @ Browns, Week 15

The big storyline will be Johnny Manziel's first start but our Bryson Vesnaver writes in the Bengals-Browns preview that it's the Browns' offensive line that deserves the headlines.

| 3 years ago

PFF Preview: Bengals @ Browns, Week 15

2014-Prev-WK15-CIN@CLEThe Cleveland Browns will look to stay alive in the playoff race this week, as they host their AFC North rivals and current division leaders, the Cincinnati Bengals. This will be the Browns’ first game with rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel starting which will be sure to draw a lot of attention.

One thing that might not draw as much attention as it should is just how good the offensive line in front of Manziel has been playing all season. Tackle Joe Thomas has been an absolute force, equally dominant in both pass blocking (third-highest grade, +18.8 grade) and run blocking (highest grade, +15.1 grade). Add in the play of guards Joel Bitonio and John Greco, who rank as the second- and seventh-highest-graded guards in the league, respectively, and the Browns should be quite confident that Manziel will not be hit too hard too often in his starting debut.

The Bengals will counter with a defensive line that has struggled for most of the season, particularly at rushing the passer. Aside from Geno Atkins, the defensive line has not been able to generate much pressure at all. End Robert Geathers and defensive tackle Domata Peko each rank dead last at their position in Pass Rushing Productivity. In fact, as a defensive unit, the Bengals’ combined pass rush grade of -48.9 is the worst in the league by a large amount. One of the best ways to beat a young rookie quarterback is to pressure him into making mistakes, so the Bengals will have to find a way to generate a pass rush against a very good offensive line.

Keep an eye on these three impact players from each team:

Cincinnati Bengals

Andrew Whitworth – He leads the league with a ridiculously low eight QB pressures allowed (zero sacks) and a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 98.6.

A.J. Green – Green’s 3.29 Yards Per Route Run is by far the highest in the league, and only one receiver has had a better grade than his +10.4 over the last four weeks.

George Iloka – He’s allowed only nine receptions all year and his 57.4 Cover Snaps Per Reception is the highest among safeties in the NFL.

Cleveland Browns

Andrew Hawkins – Hawkins has been the Browns’ best and most consistent receiver for the team all year, and his +11.4 overall grade is 11th among receivers.

Jabaal Sheard – Sheard has made 21 solo run stops in limited snaps, giving him the second-best Run Stop Percentage among 3-4 outside linebackers.

Chris Kirksey – His 16.9 Cover Snaps Per Reception and 0.48 Yards Per Cover Snap are both second-best among inside linebackers.

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32 Observations


| Analyst

Bryson has been an analyst at Pro Football Focus since 2014, and has also been a contributor to 120 Sports.

  • matnautico

    Our lack of pass rush is insane, I cant help but think that’s because of the loss of Mike Zimmer, seeing the Vikings ranked 4th in sacks.

    • Riffle,Rod&Fly

      It is pathetic. Until the NFL caps coaching salaries, Mike Brown has no business owning a team. Quality talent on the field is squandered by bargain bin coaches.

  • Chris
  • DrAWNiloc

    IMHO, giving up on the 2014 season when you have a 7-6 record was criminal. Hoyer had three bad games, one of which he won and another of which he lost to Indi by 1 point, so they replaced him with Ryan Leaf II. 30-0 was predictable karma. Dance with the one who brung ya.