ReFo: Bengals @ Browns, Week 4

John Breitenbach takes a look at how Brian Hoyer engineered a second successive victory and pulled the Browns level with the Bengals at 2-2.

| 4 years ago

John Breitenbach takes a look at how Brian Hoyer engineered a second successive victory and pulled the Browns level with the Bengals at 2-2.

ReFo: Bengals @ Browns, Week 4

2013 REFO Template wk4After an 0-2 start, the Cleveland Browns climbed right back into the AFC North race with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals, who fell to the same 2-2 record. Both teams feature strong defenses and good offensive lines, but have a serious lack of productivity at the QB position. That proved to be the case in the game between them, as they combined for just 23 points. Brian Hoyer was solid in his first start in place of an injured Brandon Weeden last week, and that continued against Cincinnati. Andy Dalton, meanwhile, continues to struggle. He constantly throws into coverage and has only average accuracy on deeper passes — and Dalton’s pocket presence needs work.

Aside from the quarterbacks, the most interesting thing to take away from this game was the way the offensive tackles handled the defensive ends. Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo all had grades in the red as pass rushers, as the offensive lines got the better of them throughout. The Bengals’ duo of Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith were on fine form, as they completed perfect games on a combined 100 drop-backs. The Browns’ pair of Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz weren’t too shabby either, allowing a solitary sack and a hit in 86 pass blocks. Let’s take a look at some individual performances.

Cincinnati – Three Performances of Note

Dalton Falters

As previously mentioned, this was another tough game for the young signal caller. Dalton (-3.0) finished with a QB rating of just 58.2 and, honestly, it could have been worse. He completed just 4 of 17 passes longer than 10 yards, and just one further than 20. It’s not a matter of arm strength, but more location. On three occasions Dalton forced the ball into coverage with passes that could have easily been picked off. There was one play (Q2, 14.39) where it seemed certain safety Tashaun Gipson would make the play, only for the ball to fall incomplete as he hit the turf. The go route was never on and, to make matters worse, Dalton stared down his receiver allowing Gipson to get across from his middle of the field position to make a play. Another aforementioned issue is Dalton’s lack of pocket awareness. He tends to leave the pocket when his quality offensive line has given him ample time and there is no need to scramble out. An example of such a play came at 8.50 in the third quarter when he scrambled to his right resulting in easy pressure for Ahtyba Rubin. There is some good news, in that when Dalton takes off, he tends to prove elusive. He put a wicked move on inside linebacker Craig Robertson in the second quarter (13.33) resulting in a first down. However, Dalton’s passing has to improve in order for the Bengals to go anywhere this season.

Awesome Atkins

Last week I mentioned how quiet Geno Atkins (+5.5) was in the win over the Packers — well, he was anything but quiet against the Browns. Oniel Cousins and John Greco were simply no match for the power of one of the league’s best interior defensive lineman. It was his work as a pass rusher (+5.7) that earned him such a high grade, as he amassed two sacks, a hit and five hurries in 37 rushes. Atkins got his pressure in a variety of ways, registering at least a pressure on both inside and outside moves, as well as with his bull rush. He was much quieter in the run game, registering a -0.4 grade. It seemed like Atkins took his foot off the gas somewhat toward the end, as he graded negatively on three occasions late in the fourth quarter. His missed tackle came mid-way through the second in the middle of a trio of plays that really sum up Atkins. At 9.11 he made a great move on Cousins to the outside registering a hit. Then he comes back the next play and drives Greco a good few yards into the backfield to totally disrupt an outside run. Although he couldn’t complete the play, he held Bobby Rainey up for enough time to allow pursuit to arrive. Then, with the Browns facing 3rd-and-14, he blew past Greco to the inside for a pressure.

Tough Day for Jones

Adam Jones (-3.3) failed to step up with Leon Hall sidelined by injury. Jones was generally just very sloppy and allowed a significant amount of separation. Overall, he allowed six completions on nine targets for 107 yards. He struggled with Josh Gordon in particular. He allowed the supplemental draft pick deep at 10.01 in the second quarter and, while he was in good position, he failed to make a play on the ball. Another issue that stood out was his failure to bring down Rainey on a couple of occasions on short routes out of the backfield, allowing the Browns to pick up extra yardage. Although he didn’t actually miss a tackle on him, Jones made a glaring mistake by taking a terrible angle to Jordan Cameron after he caught the ball on a crossing route, allowing him to pick up yards after the catch down the sideline. The Bengals will hope Hall returns soon.

Cleveland – Three Performances of Note

Schwartz Bounces Back

After a couple of bad performances in the first two weeks, Mitchell Schwartz (+3.6) is starting to look like the player who finished just outside our Top 20 offensive tackles as a rookie. In pass protection he allowed just the solitary sack on 43 drop-backs, and even that wasn’t a terrible play. The sack came on an outside move but took more than three seconds to occur. It was only Hoyer holding onto the ball that resulted in the loss of yardage. Schwartz was also called for holding on a pass play, but you have to consider him a little unfortunate as Hoyer scrambled out of the pocket costing him leverage. In the run game, it was predominantly his work on double teams that resulted in his grade in the green. He was able to generate some significant movement on rookie Devon Still on one play with 8.35 left to play in the third as he drove him inside, widening the hole.

Replacing Richardson

The Browns went to a known AFC North face in the form of Willis McGahee to pick up some slack after they traded Trent Richardson for a first-round pick. They also used Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey at running back against the Bengals. While neither of the three could find much room on the ground, they did have success in the passing game. As runners they combined for just a pair of forced missed tackles on 26 rushes. Also, just 32 of 82 yards came after contact. However, Ogbonnaya (+0.6) and Rainey (+1.3) proved especially elusive as receivers. The former caught all five targets for 21 yards and a touchdown, selling play action beautifully before escaping into the flat to register a 1-yard score. Rainey meanwhile, was only targeted twice but caught both balls for 20 yards and forced the aforementioned pair of missed tackles by Jones.

Ill-disciplined Mingo

Barkevious Mingo (-2.8) struggled in his first start as a pro. He generated a single sack as a pass rusher on 47 attempts, and he failed to beat a block on that play as he simply noticed Dalton beginning to scramble out of the pocket and tackled him a yard behind the line of scrimmage. Mingo did show the capacity to get his hands up and deflect passes (Q2, 5.26 and Q3, 4.35), but even that seemed not always to work out, as the first batted pass still found its way into the hands of the receiver. His run defense was also poor (-1.7), as he made just the solitary defensive stop and missed a tackle. Just as with his sack, Mingo’s tackle for a loss came as he cleaned up an already destroyed run early in the fourth quarter (13.08). One of the biggest issues was his failure to remain disciplined and keep outside contain on runs going away from him. Mingo often went flying down the line of scrimmage only to find the runner cutting back to where he should have been. Although he had a tough matchup against Andrew Whitworth, Browns fans will surely expect more from their first-round pick.

Game Notes

– The Bengals’ offensive line combined to give up just three hurries.

Jermaine Gresham (-2.4) is now our worst graded tight end in terms of run blocking.

– The Browns’ defense missed 6 of 48 attempted tackles.

Joe Haden shut down AJ Green, allowing just five of nine targets to be complete, for 41 yards, with a pair of pass deflections.

PFF Game Ball

Tough one this, with Whitworth and Schwartz both worthy, but in the end Atkins was simply too disruptive for me to look past him.


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John joined the PFF team in 2008, providing focused analysis on the NFL draft, team-building strategies, and positional value.

  • BZ

    I understand Atkins was a monster, and usually is but no one (Haden) on the Browns D that held the Bengals to their lowest point total in 2 years is deserving?

    • Brett

      Of the game ball I mean.

  • dm

    What are you talking about. Mingo had pressure all day, and batted two passes plus got a sack when dalton tried to scramble. plus he had a tackle for a loss. on top of that Dalton had a terrible day throwing the ball and they couldn’t run the ball. How could you give positive grades to the O-line there?

  • Jake from Statefarm

    Re-watch the game. It’s impossible for the Bengals tackles to be perfect in pass pro, Whitworth was blocking Mingo on his sack of Dalton. Also Atkins must have been the quietest +5.2 in NFL history.

    Finally, the fact that Haden doesn’t get this game ball is a joke. Geno was so disruptive that his team lost by 11? Get back to us when you look at the game neutrally.

  • Luis Molina

    You really hate the Browns don’t you?

  • TheJackalope

    This seems far more bias than discerning.

  • hjb

    Browns win 17 to 6. (It could have easily been 23-6 if we still had Phil Dawson). And all you rave about is the Bengals OL and players on the DL. Plus you give the Game ball to Atkins? Did you even watch the game? If I didn’t know the score I would think(based on your review) that the Bengals actually played well. Pathetic synopsis. Done with this site.

  • Guest

    You must not have watched the game. Mingo was a beast and
    disruptive the entire game. He is exactly what the Browns need and want from a 1st round pick.

  • LN

    You must not have watched the game. Mingo was a beast, and
    disruptive the entire game. He is exactly what the Browns need and want from a 1st round pick.

  • Joe

    Another moron who shouldn’t write about football. Mingo had key third down stop on hoyer. Could have scored if Bernard didn’t get to the ball. For his first start bengals were aware of him. Lool, idiots grading players who don’t know football.

  • Bill

    Well, these two were all I needed to dismiss this article. If you can’t reconcile your own data then don’t publish anything about it.

    neither of the three ….

    The Bengals’ duo of Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith were on fine form, as they completed perfect games on a combined 100 drop-backs.

    Barkevious Mingo (-3.7) struggled in his first start as a pro. He generated a single sack as a pass rusher on 47 attempts…………….against Andrew Whitworth.

    • Bill

      I forgot one…according to official NFL stats he had 7 catches (I believe that there were 14 targets, but doesn’t have this info)

      Joe Haden shut down AJ Green, allowing just five of nine targets to be complete, for 41 yards, with a pair of pass deflections.

    • Steve Palazzolo

      Whitworth was not assigned the sack from Mingo, so yes, both of those statements are true.
      Green did catch 7 passes on 14 targets, but only 5/9 when thrown to in Haden’s coverage.

  • bengal fan

    ive come to the belief that
    who a tight end is blocking completely doesn’t matter. Gresham blocks inline against the big boys. Not fair to compare him to these other tight ends who are asked to block safeties and corners. Last week he was blocking clay Mathews an awful lot in pass and run plays even pancaking him. I don’t see these other Te out there be given such responsibilities

    • mikewood

      Gresham certainly wasn’t catching the ball this past Sunday, that’s fo sho.

  • Ce Dobbin

    Honestly, John Breitenbach should not give up his day of of smoking drugs, because this one of the least accurate breakdowns of a football game, in the entire history of articles ever written about football on any level. I mean, are we being trolled? Is this like “The Onion” for sports?

  • Brownsfansarelame

    Browns fans are just desperate for validation of winning two games in a row. Nevermind that these guys review every play and you remember maybe 10. One great play does not a quality PFF score make.

    • mikewood

      You’re an idiot. Mingo pwned the entire Bengals offense throughout the game, and if these morons actually watched every play, they’d have seen that.

      Mingo’s up for Rookie of the Week on…because at they ACTUALLY watched the entire game.

      • Brownsfansarelame

        Do you not understand how PFF creates their grades? And Mingo played well but his sack was a 1 yard sack because Andy Dalton decided to scramble when their was no pressure, not because he beat Whitworth in any way. He had some tackles, but his line was 4 tackles and one sack. That is not a dominant performance.

        I know there is no arguing with a Browns fan, especially one as dumb as you, but try and look at facts instead of running your mouth.

        Also, Rookie of the week doesn’t mean squat.

        • mikewood

          LMAO…yeah, I understand how PFF grades players. They watch SportsCenter and then make uneducated guesses. I, on the other hand, watched the whole game and Mingo was a big part of why the defense shut the Bungholes down the way they did.

          Your last line shows just how out of touch you are. The NFL says one thing and you think it doesn’t mean anything, but some bull$#!7 site like PFF (everyone knows this rag is garbage, btw…at least, everyone but you) is bona fide, iron clad genius in your world.

          It must suck to be you.

          • Brownsfansarelame

            Hey man how are the “Bungholes” doing? I’m out of touch and don’t listen to the NFL. Can you help me out?

  • mikewood

    Any idiot can write for PFF, I guess.

    BTW…Mingo’s up for Rookie of the Week on Of course, at, they actually watch the games they comment on. Clearly the putz who wrote this is only going off of what he’s seen on SportsCenter.