By HILOW >>
- Ja’Marr Chase saw a career-high six targets when aligned in the slot and also saw the most slot snaps of his career in Week 3 against the Rams.
- It appears as if the Bengals are finally attempting to design something in their offense to optimize against 2-high defensive alignments.
- Joe Burrow currently sports the lowest IAY/PA (Intended Air Yards/Pass Attempt) of his career at 6.5, which ranks 32nd in the league.
- Tennessee forces the sixth-highest opponent pass rate over expectation (PROE) value on the season, behind just the 49ers, Jaguars, Lions, Buccaneers, and Eagles.
- Derrick Henry currently sports the lowest yards-before-contact and yards-after-contact numbers of his career, and he’s seeing an average of 6.9 men in the box on his carries.
- DeAndre Hopkins has exactly nine (NINE) yards after the catch through three games.
How cincinnati Will Try To Win ::
We’ve spoken of the general shift to a 2-high base defense around the league in multiple places so far this season. We’ve also spoken to the Bengals’ general struggles in adapting to being shown 2-high defensive alignments over the previous two seasons. Nothing explains this more than by taking a look at Burrow’s IAY/PA shift during his career. His 8.5 and 8.1 IAY/PA values during his first two professional seasons would place him in the top 10 at the position this year. But during the 2022 and 2023 seasons, those values dropped to 6.8 and 6.5, respectively. His 6.5 IAY/PA value this season ranks 32nd, ahead of just Dak Prescott (more on him at a different time) and Anthony Richardson, in terms of qualified passers. And up until last week, we hadn’t seen much in the way of a specific game plan to maximize potential against 2-high looks. But in the Bengals’ Week 3 win Monday night against the Rams, an opponent that plays heavy rates of 2-high defensive alignments, we finally saw Zac Taylor do something (anything) to optimize his offense versus that alignment, and it revolved almost exclusively around his utilization of Chase.
Joe Mixon maintains his status as the unquestioned lead back in this offense, commanding an elite 81.8 percent opportunity share and averaging a solid 5.1 yards per touch on his opportunities (17th in the league). And his efficiency metrics have actually improved this season, ranking sixth in total yards created and 10th in yards created per touch. One of the benefits of playing in an offense helmed by Burrow and containing elite pieces such as Chase and Tee Higgins is what it forces opponents to show Mixon as far as defensive fronts go. Mixon has averaged just 6.3 defenders in the box on his carries this season, which ranks 47th in the league (the lower that number the better). The touchdown woes largely continue into 2023 for Mixon, who managed just four total touchdowns outside of his five-touchdown eruption in Week 9 against the Panthers a season ago. A lot of that thus far this year has to do with an offense averaging just 1.7 red-zone scoring opportunities per game through three weeks (31st in the league). The matchup is also about as difficult as it could be against a Titans defense that places extreme emphasis on stopping opposing run games and forcing their opposition to beat them through the air. Expect Trayveon Williams to operate as the primary change-of-pace back until further notice.
Alrighty then (yes, said in our best Ace Ventura voice), back to the fun stuff. For the first time in forever (yes, said in our best Anna of Arendale voice), the Bengals showed us something to take advantage of 2-high defensive alignments in Week 3. Chase saw the highest slot snap rate of his entire career against the Rams and commanded a robust 15 targets (tied for the second most in a game of his career). The offense also attempted to introduce pre-snap motion, which is one of the ways offensive coordinators are manipulating opposing safeties against 2-high shells. It is highly unlikely that we see this team utilize a downfield burner in the form of a classic Z-type wide receiver, as they simply don’t have a player on the roster capable of that role outside of Chase, and they would be wise not to limit his route tree that much. This basically leaves them reliant on pre-snap motion, schemed usage, and Burrow’s body positioning and eyes in the pocket to manipulate opposing safeties – but they are finally making strides in that area. Let’s hope that Chase’s new-look role in this offense continues beyond Burrow’s injured calf.
Higgins is kind of just the same player we’ve always known him to be – a 4.59 40, plus-size wide receiver that can win in a moderate-to-deep, X-type wide receiver role. Higgins had no less than three drops a week ago, which does not instill confidence moving forward. But he’s also always capable of putting up a multi-touchdown game considering his role in this offense. Tyler Boyd is also the same player we’ve always known him to be – a low aDOT slot receiver that largely struggles to provide upside with the ball in his hands. Tight end Irv Smith missed Week 3 with a hamstring injury and is now on a short week with the Bengals having played Monday. Drew Sample, Mitchell Wilcox, and Tanner Hudson split snaps evenly in his absence, all seeing between 32 and 36 offensive snaps against the Rams. The final aspect to note here is the continued propensity for teams to simply lean on the pass against the Titans, which are currently forcing the sixth-highest opponent PROE (behind the 49ers, Jaguars, Lions, Buccaneers, and Eagles).