Cincinnati Bengals: wallace gilberry

How the Bengals stopped Peyton Manning

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
CINCINNATI -- Peyton Manning had dominated the Cincinnati Bengals every time he played them.

Not only was the Denver Broncos quarterback 8-0 in his career versus Cincinnati, but he was 3-0 with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions against them in the month of December. He had every reason in the world to believe he was going to roll over them once again, and this time with a national audience watching.

But that didn't happen.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsThe Bengals had a good plan for slowing Peyton Manning on Monday night, and it included constant pressure from the defensive line.
In arguably their best overall performance against a quality opponent this season, the Bengals scratched out a 37-28 win Monday night that put them in the playoffs for a fourth straight year and silenced criticisms about their inability to win in prime time.

Atop the list of contributing factors to Cincinnati's success was stopping Manning. They forced him into throwing four interceptions, the sixth time in his regular season and postseason career that he has done that. It was the first time it happened to him since 2010.

So, what led to it? How did the Bengals stop Manning? With a combination of timely pressures from the defensive line, good play in the secondary, one key late coaching decision, and a Bengals offense that ran the ball like it was supposed to.

Defensive end Wallace Gilberry summed up the defensive line's success by saying the trick was "getting to [Manning] and hitting him."

According to Pro Football Focus, Manning was pressured 13 times. That includes nine quarterback hurries, three quarterback hits and one sack.

"If you let a guy like that settle his feet," Gilberry said, "he's going to make some big plays. We just stayed on him and stayed on him and stayed on him and stayed on him. I'm not sure how many times we hit him or sacked him, but it was enough to cause disruption and to give our guys on the back end time to make plays."

In the secondary, the Bengals rallied in the fourth quarter after a harrowing third that saw Manning lead a furious rally. Down 20-7 at halftime, Manning took the Broncos into the fourth quarter with a 28-27 lead.

It was during that third quarter that veteran cornerback Terence Newman allowed a series of catches, including a 33-yard completion that he also was flagged for defensive pass interference on, and a 46-yard catch. Not long after he gave up the latter of the two deep throws, Newman was replaced by third-year corner Dre Kirkpatrick. In the game's final three minutes, Kirkpatrick intercepted Manning twice, including once on a pass he returned 30 yards for a touchdown that extended the Bengals' tight lead.

"The guys on the back end did an outstanding job, not just in the fourth quarter, but all day," Gilberry said. "They've got big receivers, they're going to make plays. We get that. But it's up to us to limit those plays and that's what we did."

One of the other focuses the Bengals' offense had all week was to run the ball effectively enough that they kept it out of Manning's hands. Cincinnati rushed for 207 yards, marking the second straight game it has gone over the 200-yard mark. More importantly, the time on the ground taking time off the clock led the Bengals to a time-of-possession victory. They held the ball for 31:38, and Denver had it for 28:22.

For a deeper look at what went wrong for Manning on both long and short throws, read this from ESPN Stats & Information.
CINCINNATI -- It's been easy -- convenient, really -- to put all the Cincinnati Bengals' prime-time problems in recent seasons on quarterback Andy Dalton.

But the fact of the matter is, the issues the Bengals have had extend far beyond the quarterback. Sure, he's had his hand in some of the troubles, but the entire team hasn't been good on the national stage the last four seasons.

Heck, they haven't been good in prime time in 12 seasons under coach Marvin Lewis.
There have been wins here and there -- the Bengals hope there will be one more Monday night when they host the Denver Broncos -- but they have been few and far between. Numbers from ESPN Stats & Information support that.

Since 2011, the year Dalton was drafted, the Bengals have gone a combined 2-9 in the playoffs, and on Monday, Thursday and Sunday nights. This season alone, they are 0-2 in prime-time games. Ahead of Thursday night's tilt between the Titans and Jaguars, the Bengals own the third-worst points margin (minus-47) and turnover margin (minus-six) among the 31 teams that have played night-time games this season.

In non-prime-time games this season, Cincinnati has a 9-2-1 record with a plus-69 points margin and plus-four turnover margin.

Before we get too deep into how far beyond Dalton the prime-time woes go, keep this in mind: Since 2011, Dalton has a .250 winning percentage in prime time, tied for second-worst among qualified quarterbacks in that span. Only Minnesota's Christian Ponder has a worse winning percentage (.200).

As you can see in one of the charts, Dalton has been pretty miserable after 7 p.m. But thanks to Stats & Information, we can see that this season, so has the rest of the team:
  • Cincinnati's rushers are averaging 82.5 yards per game in their two prime-time games (that's the eighth-worst), and 138.3 yards per game in the 12 afternoon games (third-best). The Bengals are one of three teams without a rushing touchdown in prime-time games.
  • The Bengals' run defense has allowed 195 yards per game (second-most) and four rushing touchdowns in two prime-time games. In the 12 daytime games, the unit is giving up a more modest 113.1 yards per game and 11 touchdowns.
  • Cincinnati's combined total allowed QBR (85.3) in prime-time games against Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer is fourth-worst in the NFL. In the afternoon, though, they have the seventh-best opposing QBR (44.7). That includes games that have featured Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger.

As previously mentioned, this isn't all that recent of a phenomenon for the Bengals, either. Historically, Lewis' teams have struggled on Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights. Since Lewis became head coach in 2003, the Bengals are 6-15 in such games. That .286 winning percentage ranks 28th in the NFL in that stretch.

Cincinnati also has a minus-8.4 point margin per game in those 12 seasons that ranks 30th in the league. Only the Bills and Raiders have worse point margins per game in prime time than the Bengals under Lewis.

Since the QBR was first tracked in 2006, Lewis' defenses have allowed an average 70.7 total QBR to opposing quarterbacks in prime-time games. In the daytime, that number dips to 48.2.
CINCINNATI -- It's the question Cincinnati Bengals fans have been wanting answered the past four seasons.

Why has this team struggled at night?

"I have no idea," defensive end Wallace Gilberry said Thursday.

"I guess we're afraid of the dark."

[+] EnlargeTom Brady
AP Photo/Steven SenneCount defense against opposing quarterbacks among the Bengals' prime-time woes.
It's either that, or something else. What is known is that Cincinnati's struggles in prime time are well-documented, and the Bengals have no one to blame for that but themselves.

Since 2011, the year Andy Dalton was drafted and made starting quarterback, they are 2-6 in games played on Monday, Sunday and Thursday nights. That includes losses earlier this year to the New England Patriots on a Sunday night and to the Cleveland Browns on a Thursday night. The Bengals also have lost their last three playoff games, making their big-game showing the last four seasons an abysmal 2-9 overall.

The last time Cincinnati won in prime time in the regular season, they knocked off the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Monday night game at Paul Brown Stadium. Monday's game on ESPN against the Denver Broncos will be the Bengals' first on that night of the week since.

With the looming nationally televised game, this is now the third time this season Bengals players have had to answer questions about their struggles when the sun goes down. They may be tired of hearing these questions but many admitted that until they do something to change the narrative, they know the questions will come.

"It is annoying and it's our job to make it unannoying," safety George Iloka said to reporters. "If we lose this game, the talk will come back again. But that's you all's job to do. If you feel like you see something that the team is lacking or having a problem with, you have to write about it. And if we want to silence the critics, so to say, we've got to put up or shut up. That's how it goes. It might be annoying, but that's on us."

Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson had similar sentiments.

"Until we do it, you guys are going to keep writing about it. So it doesn't matter what I say or what I think, at the end of the day, we just have to go out and do it," he said.

Pressed during his news conference Thursday about the reasons behind the Bengals' prime-time problems, head coach Marvin Lewis chalked it up to two things: poor defense of the opposing quarterback and turnovers.

"We haven't had any effect on the other team's quarterback," Lewis said. "We also haven't made enough plays effectively on offense, we haven't been very good on third down in some of those games, and they make a big difference."

He's right. In their 11 prime-time and playoff games since 2011, the Bengals have given up an average opposing passer rating of 93.8, and an opposing total QBR of 69.2. They also have lost 17 turnovers, while retained 12 themselves. On third down, the offense has converted at a 29.5 percent clip in these games.

"I don't know why we haven't played as good on defense in those games, but we need to," Lewis said. "I don't know why we haven't played as good on offense, or why we've given up on a play on special teams in those games, but we need to do better."
CINCINNATI -- Vontaze Burfict has been absent from the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive huddles the last six weeks, but at least one of his teammates can barely tell.

Defensive end Wallace Gilberry said earlier this week that the "Will" linebacker's replacement, Vincent Rey, has started turning into a more diminutive version of Burfict. Rey, according to Gilberry, is letting his inner dog show.


"Vinny's become a little mean," Gilberry said. "I don't know what's going on with him, but he's becoming a little pit bull."

Told what the lineman said about his new attitude, Rey, sporting a pair of thick, black-rimmed glasses, smirked and said, "I think that's a good thing."

It is. It's especially a good thing for a player who off the field looks more like a history teacher than a linebacker. Among the many approachable defenders in the Bengals' locker room, Vincent Rey and the word "mean" don't really seem to go together. This week, though, when the Bengals travel to Cleveland for an important AFC North game against the Browns, they must.

That's mainly because Rey will be the linchpin in a Bengals defense that is facing Johnny Manziel in his first career start. A mobile quarterback noted for his ability to extend plays and to escape the pocket, Manziel presents a unique challenge. While there isn't much film on the rookie -- he's only played 17 snaps this year -- he is coming off a college career that was full of highlight-reel worthy moments.

For that reason, Rey believes the Bengals can't get too worked up if Manziel picks up big gains sporadically throughout the game. The key will be to keep them as inconsistent as possible.

"He is going to make some plays," Rey said. "Heisman Trophy winner, he made a lot of plays in college. But it's on us to keep doing our jobs and to work together as a unit. When we do that, we play well."

Coach Marvin Lewis has been adamant this week in getting his players to realize that the best way to combat the read-option is to maintain their assignments.

Rey has understood that.

"My approach is getting all of us on defense getting lined up right," Rey said. "If we're all lined up right, especially in the front seven, we'll give ourselves a good chance to get plays stopped."

That's where being a pit bull can come in handy. As long as Rey remains firm in his rattling off of play responsibilities and assertively calls out any pre-snap changes, his teammates will pay attention to him.

They'll also keep paying attention if he continues to play as authoritatively as he has. Last week he had 15 tackles, one shy of the career-high 16 he had at Indianapolis earlier this year.

In his first seven games, including the Colts game, when he mostly relieved Burfict after in-game injuries, Rey averaged 5.4 tackles. In the six contests since he started in place of the Pro Bowl linebacker, Rey has averaged 9.8 tackles.

Rey contends that little has changed with respect to his approach since Burfict's latest injury. But he does acknowledge that having a better respect for the sport and being more confident in setting the defense because of his off-field study.

"It's one thing to prepare your body, but I've realized that preparing your mind to go out there and stop these great players in this league is very important," Rey said.

The Bengals hope the pit bull will be ready Sunday for his one of his toughest tests yet.
CINCINNATI -- If the Cincinnati Bengals end up narrowly claiming their second straight AFC North title, they may have a little red flag and the hoarse voices of several assistant coaches to thank.

That's because, for now, their division championship hopes live on thanks in large part to a 12-man penalty that came with 12 seconds remaining in Sunday afternoon's 14-13 road win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If it hadn't been for a challenge flag -- one that NFL rules don't allow coaches to throw at that late stage of a game -- and the constant pleas of assistants to count the number of Buccaneers on the field, the division run would have taken a minor hit.

With seconds ticking by and the Bucs a field goal away from a walk-off stunner, Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown had just completed a 20-yard pass to receiver Louis Murphy when, according to one Bengals player, the chatter on head coach Marvin Lewis' headset intensified.

Assistant coaches looking down from the press box were going ballistic. As Murphy started getting up at the end of the first-down completion that took him to the Bengals' 21-yard line and well within field goal range, coaches started screaming, telling Lewis to challenge the play, or to call timeout, or to just do anything that would get the referees' attention and cause them to look back at the play.

What did the eyes in the sky see?

Tampa Bay had too many men on the field.

"All of our coaches up there, they have a better eye for that stuff and they saw it right away," Bengals running back Jeremy Hill said. "That's kind of how Marvin threw the challenge flag. If they had gotten that next play off, no telling how the outcome would have been. They probably would have gotten a chance to kick a field goal for the game."

Hill said running backs coach Kyle Caskey told him he was among those who alerted Lewis about the Buccaneers' 12th man.

Rules state a team can't use a challenge within the final two minutes of a game. Any review-worthy plays that occur within that time frame automatically go to the replay booth, which will take a look at it. The penalty for challenging when there are no available challenges is a lost timeout. The good thing for the Bengals was that they had two timeouts left before the challenge flag was thrown, leaving them with a timeout to spare.

But that wasn't the most important part about the sequence. It was that the play was worthy of review.

"The refs were telling us they would take care of it," said defensive end Wallace Gilberry, who added that he and his teammates noticed an extra player on the field. "We could shout until we turn purple. If they don't call it in and review it, it's just one of those things that they miss."

After several minutes of the officials conferring with the replay booth, and after viewers at home witnessed CBS analyst and former Bengals player Solomon Wilcots count the 12 players on a replay of the play, the review came back favorable for the Bengals. Tampa Bay offensive lineman Oniel Cousins was on the field when he shouldn't have been. A regular substitution to give the Bengals an additional blocker in power situations, Cousins had been on the field often Sunday. But he shouldn't have been allowed to check in on this particular play, which featured two extra linemen who served as tight ends.

"We were trying to match up the personnel, and there was one too many," Lewis said.

Gilberry said it was the right call.

Once the penalty was applied, the Bengals forced two straight incomplete passes and held firm on Tampa Bay's desperate fourth-down try for the end zone. Without allowing the score, the Bengals were able to win, keeping them very much in the driver's seat in the most contentious division in the NFL. At 8-3-1, they lead the other three AFC North teams by a game and a half and currently hold the AFC's No. 3 seed. With help, they could even contend for the conference's top seed by the last of these next four games.

But none of that would have been possible if it hadn't been for the heady, alert eyes of Bengals assistant coaches.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Cincinnati Bengals' 14-13 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Manning the phones: As reporters walked into the Bengals' stuffy, narrow locker room inside Raymond James Stadium, right offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse looked up from his phone and shouted to teammates: "San Diego just went ahead." A chorus of oohs and ahhs went up from the nearby lockers. Moments after Eddie Royal caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in Baltimore, the Bengals were pleased to find out their division lead was about to be extended. After 38 more game seconds ticked off without a Ravens score, it was official. The Bengals' lead over the rest of the AFC North had just swelled to one-and-a-half games on a weekend when the rest of the division lost.

Bengals spot pivotal penalty: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis acknowledged he shouldn't have thrown his challenge flag to dispute a potential Buccaneers substitution infraction with 26 seconds remaining, but he was just trying to get the clock stopped as quickly as he could. In his ears, assistant coaches were going ballistic complaining that Tampa Bay had one too many players on the field during a 21-yard pass that easily put the Buccaneers in field goal position. Running back Jeremy Hill said running backs coach Kyle Caskey told him he spotted the penalty that the replay booth later enforced. "Stuff like that that goes unnoticed, the coaches in the box down to Marvin, that's huge," Hill said. "That's what won us the game." Defensive end Wallace Gilberry also said he and a few other Bengals defenders noticed too many men on the field and complained to officials even before Lewis threw his challenge flag.

Peko to get MRI: Defensive tackle Domata Peko left the game near halftime with a left elbow injury. He will get an MRI on Monday, although Peko doesn't seem to think he has anything to worry about. He said as much after the game, expressing optimism about playing again next week. After getting dressed in a suit and tie, Peko was spotted wearing a sling around his left arm.

The Film Don't Lie: Bengals

November, 11, 2014
Nov 11
A weekly look at what the Cincinnati Bengals must fix:

Where, oh where do we begin with this week's fixes? There are any number of directions we could go following Cincinnati's 24-3 debacle Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium. But since the Bengals' Week 11 opponent, the New Orleans Saints, have a running back who has rushed for more than 100 yards in three straight games and a tight end who can leap out of his domed home, it makes sense these fixes focus on countering backs and tight ends.

We'll start with the backs. Against the Cleveland Browns last week, the Bengals permitted a seventh consecutive team to rush for 100 yards or more in a single game. Terrance West was the Browns' most prolific runner and rushed 26 times for 94 yards. While the Browns rushed for 170 yards and had a high rate of carries (52), that doesn't dispute that the Bengals had trouble stopping them on the ground. The source of many of the Bengals' problems stopping the run was their defensive line.

According to Pro Football Focus, defensive end Wallace Gilberry didn't record a run stop, despite being on the field for 36 of the Browns' 52 runs. It was clear the Browns were focused on running up the middle of the field, as well. Per ESPN Stats & Information, 132 of the 170 yards were collected between the tackles. Expect the Saints to notice that and try to do the same thing. Of back Mark Ingram's 551 rushing yards, 73.5 percent have come between the tackles.

The Bengals defense didn't have issues with tight ends Thursday, but it will have its hands full Sunday with Jimmy Graham. The bigger-bodied player is a prolific pass-catcher similar to New England's Rob Gronkowski. Cincinnati struggled with Gronkowksi earlier this season and allowed him to catch six passes for 100 yards and one touchdown. This season, tight ends have caught 24.9 percent of the passes opposing quarterbacks have completed.

PFF reviews the Bengals' Week 10 loss

November, 10, 2014
Nov 10
CINCINNATI -- As we begin this week, we'll take one final look back at the Cincinnati Bengals' revolting performance in last Thursday's blowout loss to the Cleveland Browns. We'll do so through the lens of our friends at Pro Football Focus.

Let's take a quick peek at some of the ways PFF analyzed and examined Cincinnati's Week 10 game.

As always, take the grades and notes you see below with a certain grain of salt, as they can end up being amended. Bad grades also can sometimes simply be the product of particular schemes, coverage or formations a team happens to employ in a respective week based upon the opponent.

Here are a few Bengals grades and notes following Thursday's 24-3 loss:

  • Britt
    The Bengals' offensive line continues to be anchored by veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who was one of the few bright spots on a rough night overall for the line. As he held the left edge, Whitworth allowed just one hurry on 47 blocking attempts, according to PFF. He leads all offensive tackles in pass-blocking efficiency with a 99.0 percentage.
  • Right guard Kevin Zeitler also had an impressive night, returning for the first time in two weeks and playing all 68 snaps. He and left guard Clint Boling were given plus-1.8 overall grades.
  • As well as Whitworth, Zeitler and Boling played, rookie center Russell Bodine and backup right tackle Marshall Newhouse didn't play so well. Newhouse specifically had a rough game, amassing a minus-6.6 overall grade from PFF. As he filled in for the injured Andre Smith, Newhouse allowed three quarterback hurries, one quarterback hit, a sack and had two penalties.
  • A byproduct of the pressure Newhouse allowed was that quarterback Andy Dalton was nowhere close to as sharp as he could be. Dalton, Newhouse's former TCU teammate, had the worst overall grade of his career, as PFF handed him a minus-7.7. That went along with his career-low passer rating of 2.0.
  • Dalton was pressured on just 11 of his 37 dropbacks. On the 26 dropbacks in which he faced no pressure, though, Dalton played terribly. He was just 8-for-25 for 60 yards and two interceptions on those dropbacks, per PFF. Much of his negative overall grade came from those non-pressured plays.
  • Dalton struggled between the numbers as well, going 7-for-17 for 71 yards and three interceptions when he directed passes into the middle of the field.
  • Rookie running back Jeremy Hill, playing in place of the injured Giovani Bernard, had a tough time getting yards, collecting just 55 on 12 carries. Of those 55 yards, 33 came after initial contact, meaning there weren't very many holes present for him.
  • Hill ended up forcing three missed tackles. On 101 touches this season, he has forced 18 missed tackles total, good enough for a 42.1 elusive rating.
  • Only two defensive notes from PFF jump out. The first involves safety George Iloka, who continues to impress this season. He had three run stops -- it's never a good sign when your safeties are recording tackles on runs; it's a sign of breakdowns against the run at the defensive line -- and recorded a quarterback hit on his lone pass rush. He also had a pass defense on the one pass that came into his area of coverage.
  • Defensive end Wallace Gilberry was surprisingly a source of the line issues in run defense. PFF credited him with missing a tackle and not having a single run stop. He had chances, too. Gilberry was on the field for 36 of the 52 running plays the Browns had.
CINCINNATI -- Wallace Gilberry has two words for any of his Cincinnati Bengals teammates he hears complaining about this week's quick turnaround with Thursday night's game against the Cleveland Browns.

Be quiet.

"You sign up for it," Gilberry said of the short week. "It's no need to sit here and be mad about it and talk about it. You sign up for it, and Thursday we've got the Cleveland Browns in here and we've got to turn this thing around and take care of business."

It's put up or shut up time for the veteran defensive end who thought the Bengals played "ugly" in Sunday's 33-23 win against the Jaguars. Though the victory made the Bengals 5-2-1 and preserved their lead atop a solid AFC North, it still had some elements of poor play that Gilberry and others want to resolve when the eyes of the nation pay attention to the Queen City later this week.

As far as "turn[ing] this thing around," the Bengals actually have already done that. Following a stretch in which they lost two games to the Patriots and Colts and tied with the Panthers, the Bengals have won two games. In addition to Sunday's win, they also beat division foe Baltimore last week, wrapping up a series sweep that could pay dividends in tiebreaker scenarios.

Thursday's game will be against only the second division team the Bengals have faced all season. Last season, the Bengals and Browns split the "Battle of Ohio," with the Bengals claiming the 41-20 victory at Paul Brown Stadium.

Historically, the Bengals are 2-3 on Thursday nights. Only two of those games have been against division opponents. They are 1-1 against the Ravens and Steelers, losing the game at Pittsburgh in 2008.

Cincinnati's last Thursday night game didn't go well. After blowing out the Jets at home 49-9 on a Sunday, Cincinnati fell in overtime on the road the following Thursday at Miami. The 22-20 finish was decided when Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake sacked quarterback Andy Dalton in the end zone.

Since 2011, the year Dalton became starting quarterback, the Bengals are 2-5 in prime-time games. Most recently, they lost the Week 5 Sunday night game at New England last month. They might not like that statistic, but after the Week 5 loss, they will be hearing a lot of it this week.
CINCINNATI -- For all of nine seconds Sunday there was a nervous energy inside Paul Brown Stadium.

The 19-3 lead the Cincinnati Bengals had built, vanished. Suddenly, the rout was no more as the Jacksonville Jaguars scored on Denard Robinson's 5-yard touchdown run to cut Cincinnati's lead to three. With the fourth quarter entering its midway point, the Bengals needed a jolt.

On the opening play of the ensuing drive, rookie running back Jeremy Hill reestablished calm in the stadium when he ripped off a 60-yard touchdown run that had Bengals fans jumping once again.

The Bengals held on to beat the one-win Jaguars, 33-23.

It wasn't the prettiest victory, but it was a win.

"We fought, we scratched we clawed. It was ugly," defensive end Wallace Gilberry said. "But like they say, even the ugly ones count."

The Bengals dropped three for-sure interceptions and had another two either ripped away or batted away by opposing pass-catchers. They also had six penalties. And they threw two interceptions, including one that bounced off offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth's back at the line of scrimmage before getting intercepted by J.T. Thomas.

"It's part of the game. That's what makes football so special," Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said about the seesaw nature of games in the NFL. "You can be up 14 and in two minutes, you're down by three. That's just the beauty of the game. In all phases, you've just got to be ready."

Sunday's win in spite of everything that went wrong showed the Bengals that maybe their luck was beginning to change. In previous games, dropped interceptions came back to haunt them, as did wacky plays like Thomas' interception.

"That let's you know that when you're able to make mistakes like that and have breakdowns in the defense so to speak, and still come out on top, that says a lot about your team," Gilberry said. "But at the end of the day, we've got to play better."

Ugly football is part of the Jaguars' persona for right now. In a certain sense an argument could be made that the 5-2-1 Bengals played down to the level of their opponent. Gilberry would caution that line of thinking.

"That's a good team, man. I don't care what nobody says," Gilberry said. "They're young, and when they find out how to win, you're going to have to deal with them. Mark my words."
CINCINNATI -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Cincinnati Bengals' 33-23 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars:
  • Hill holds court: Jeremy Hill was a popular interview subject Sunday afternoon. For nearly 45 minutes, the rookie running back chatted with various reporters about his career day. He rushed 24 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Giovani Bernard, who sat because of a pair of injuries. Hill was still dressed, shoulder pads and all, nearly the whole time. It was just before a radio interview that he finally took off his pads and jersey. Most of the time, Hill stood directly in front of Bernard's locker (which is next to his). Bernard tried to wait him out to give his congratulations in person but eventually took off. (He'll see him Monday, anyway.) While Hill chatted with reporters, some players shouted their support as they walked behind cameras or leaned between the mass of bodies to offer up fist bumps. Cornerback Adam Jones was one of those who butted in for a bump.
  • Sanu on Hill's dance: Receiver Mohamed Sanu has been known to bust a move or two when he scores. In the preseason, he unveiled his version of the "Shmoney" dance, one made popular by rapper Bobby Shmurda. After Hill scored the first of his two touchdowns, he did his version of that dance. So what did Sanu think about Hill's rendition? "Have you seen it?" Sanu asked, smiling. "It's pretty awesome." Hill, who earlier this season did Ickey Woods' "Ickey Shuffle," also pulled off the "Dougie" dance after he scored his second touchdown.
  • Special-teams mentality: Nico Johnson was signed as a free agent Oct. 15, days before the Bengals were down two linebackers in their starting rotation. Still, he didn't think he'd see the field as a starter for a long while. He had to digest the Bengals' playbook first. The Bengals thought he was ready and started him Sunday. "My mindset was special teams, special teams, special teams," Johnson said. "That was my mindset that I would come in and make my effect on special teams and make the best out of a great opportunity." He had one tackle in place of Rey Maualuga.
  • Jags a 'good team': Veteran Bengals defensive end Wallace Gilberry thinks the 1-8 Jaguars are on the cusp of greatness. "That's a good team," he said. "I don't care what nobody says. They're young, and when they find out how to win, people are going to have to deal with them. Mark my words."

PFF reviews the Bengals' Week 8 win

October, 27, 2014
Oct 27
CINCINNATI -- After closing out the regular-season series sweep Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals have placed the Baltimore Ravens in their rearview mirror for now. The Ravens can't directly affect them the rest of this season.

Let's take a quick peek at some of the ways our friends at Pro Football Focus analyzed and examined Cincinnati's Week 8 game.

As always, take the grades and notes you see below with a certain grain of salt because they can end up being amended. Bad grades also can sometimes simply be the product of particular schemes, coverage or formations a team happens to employ in a respective week based upon the opponent.

Here are a few Bengals grades and notes following Sunday's dramatic 27-24 win:

  • Britt
    In what was a mostly down week for the Bengals' offensive line, Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth stood out most significantly, according to PFF's grades. He led the unit with an overall grade of plus-1.8, and was the only offensive lineman in positive territory. Right guard Kevin Zeitler had a 0.0 grade before a calf injury caused him to exit the game in the fourth quarter. As for Whitworth, per PFF, he has only allowed three quarterback pressures all season and none since Week 2. By those standards, he could be closing in on another Pro Bowl-caliber year.
  • The interior of the Bengals' line, notably left guard Clint Boling and center Russell Bodine, had some of its worst grades of the season. Boling had a season-low minus-4.5 overall grade, while Bodine had a minus-4.6. Bodine allowed three quarterback hurries against the Ravens and had trouble in run blocking. Once, he even incurred a holding penalty at the same time he blocked a Baltimore lineman backward, and into running back Jeremy Hill in the backfield.
  • Quarterback Andy Dalton wasn't pressured much Sunday -- taking heat on 10 of his 31 dropbacks -- but when he did feel the pressure, he handled it mostly well. He was 5-for-7 for 91 yards passing on the 10 pressures. He also took two sacks and scrambled once. This was the second time in as many weeks that he was sacked two or more times.
  • Dalton remains the least pressured quarterback in the league, according to PFF, but he has seen an uptick in the pressure the past two weeks. He was pressured on 29.3 percent of his dropbacks against the Colts in Week 7, and saw pressures on 32.3 percent of his dropbacks Sunday.
  • Dunlap
    Cincinnati's pass rush was sparked by Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, the defender with the highest pass-rush grade -- plus-1.0 -- of any player on the team. PFF said Atkins tallied three quarterback pressures in addition to his first full sack. PFF added that Dunlap hurried Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco five times and had a quarterback hit once.
  • One week after their backup-filled linebacker corps was ripped to shreds by Indianapolis' offense, the Bengals got a boost from Emmanuel Lamur, who returned to the starting rotation following a week off to tend to a shoulder injury. He was good overall, garnering a plus-1.4 overall grade, but it was in run defense where he excelled the most, PFF noted. He had a plus-1.5 grade against the run. In the passing game, Lamur also gave up two catches on five targets and had an interception.
  • The Bengals have had trouble stopping the run all season, but defensive end Wallace Gilberry has been one of their better pieces against it. He has the line's top run-stop percentage at 7.1 percent, per PFF. That's the highest figure of a player in the division, and it's 11th in the league.
CINCINNATI -- When Paul Guenther was promoted this offseason to become the Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator, some were a little surprised by the move.

Those critical of the move mostly felt that way because they viewed Guenther as the antithesis to his predecessor, Mike Zimmer, the current Minnesota Vikings head coach.

For six seasons as defensive coordinator, Zimmer used a gruff, brutish and verbally crude leadership style to get the best out of his players. He would scream, he would yell, he would curse. He would be successful.

[+] EnlargeRey Maualuga and Paul Guenther
AP Photo/Al BehrmanBengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther isn't a screamer by nature, but he raised the decibel level this week.
As abrasive as they might have seemed, Zimmer's tactics worked. The Bengals had one of the better defensive units in the league under his watch. The Bengals ranked third in the NFL in total defense last season, the highest ranking a Bengals defense had in more than 30 years.

When it comes to Guenther, the first-year coordinator doesn't do many of the things that were hallmarks of Zimmer's coaching style. He doesn't scream, at least not too much. He doesn't yell often. Where Zimmer was viewed as a coach players feared and respected, Guenther is seen as one they can relate to and befriend.

"There's different ways to go about it," Guenther said, asked about his approach with players following three straight rough defensive performances. "Sometimes when you yell and scream all the time, they tune you out. But sometimes you've got to take that approach.

"In this case, that's what was needed."

Guenther didn't mince words during defensive meetings at the start of the week. He was critical of what players were doing wrong and adamant about the younger players knowing more about the defense than the starters ahead of them. When the Bengals were wiped out at linebacker last week at Indianapolis, a trio of reserves -- one a rookie, one a seldom-used second-year player -- finished the game at the positions because of injuries.

"I don't ever want to use that we have guys hurt as an excuse," Guenther said. "We go play. I've always preached that, even when I coached linebackers. When somebody goes down, the next guy goes in and he's got to know what to do. Point blank."

Defensive end Wallace Gilberry didn't see Guenther flip a switch and turn into a different coach in meetings this week, but he could tell the coordinator was desperate to make the defense's key fixes.

"Paulie's the same guy. He believes in us," Gilberry said. "He knows that the calls, and the guys he's giving the calls to, are there. It's just a matter of us getting it done. No one's jumped off ship and there's no reason to. You just got to get back and pull your weight. Grab the oars and pull your weight."

It wasn't all yelling and screaming for Guenther this week. He offered words of encouragement, too.

Despite losing 27-0 and giving up 500 yards of offense for the second time in three weeks, he saw flashes of good play last Sunday from his defense, which was on the field a whopping 39 minutes, 43 seconds.

"Coach was telling us, 'Dude, for the first half of the game, it felt like we were getting back to who we were,'" defensive tackle Domata Peko said. "It was encouraging to see us getting back to three-and-outs and playing fast. We'll be all right if we keep that mentality going, and if we keep that energy going throughout the whole game, we should be a tough team to beat."
CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals are desperate to change the mostly bad vibes that exist around them this week.

It seems they have been thinking a few good vibrations would help.

For the first time since Marvin Lewis became head coach 12 years ago, the Bengals played music at the start of practice Thursday afternoon, in an apparent act of trying to keep the players loose in the middle of what has been arguably the most challenging week of the season.

Last Sunday, the Bengals dropped a game 27-0 at Indianapolis in which their offense failed to cross midfield for more than 48 minutes, and one in which they converted just one third down. The loss came on the heels of another loss that was followed up by a tie. The 0-2-1 record since the Bengals' Week 4 bye has made their undefeated 3-0 start look like an aberration.

They are focused this week on proving that it wasn't.

One way they have attempted to do that was to put players at ease by blasting music from Cincinnati radio station 101.1 "The Wiz" FM over a set of speakers set up on the field. The speakers normally are brought out during weeks the Bengals are going on the road to simulate crowd noise. On this day, four days before their home game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Bengals had music coming from the speakers.

During the half-hour corridor when practice was open, several songs played. The most notable were Beyonce's "Partition," "Latch," from Disclosure and Sam Smith, and T.I.'s "All about the money."

As the tunes blared across the practice fields during stretching and position-specific drills, several players were seen nodding their heads and bouncing. They certainly looked looser than they have been all week.

Earlier this week, in an interview with, defensive end Wallace Gilberry said he's felt like the fun had been zapped from the team since its winless streak began.

"We're not having fun," Gilberry said. "Guys are trying too much, and when you're trying too much, it causes tension -- not within the group, but tension in what you're doing. We've just got to get back to having fun. Having fun and flying around and just making plays."
CINCINNATI -- For Cincinnati Bengals fans looking for a silver lining in all the team's injury issues, there is finally good news.

Right offensive guard Kevin Zeitler appears poised to make his first start since Week 2 on Sunday when the Bengals visit the Indianapolis Colts. The third-year player had been battling a right calf injury sustained while blocking on a goal-line touchdown run.

After practicing one day last week, Zeitler took part in all three of the Bengals' workouts this week. He told earlier this week that he had been targeting last Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers as the return date, but he was glad to receive the extra time off to ensure his leg was as close to 100 percent as it can be.

About an hour before Zeitler showed up among the probables on the injury report Friday, coach Marvin Lewis said the guard had a good week of practice.

Zeitler's return means Mike Pollak will go back into the reserve role. With Pollak playing for Zeitler, the Bengals didn't have any real drop-off in protection for the pass or run. Pollak received positive overall grades from Pro Football Focus in all but one of the four games in which he relieved Zeitler.

"Obviously we feel good about both of them, and it enhances your depth and it enhances your ability at other spots," Lewis said about Zeitler's addition. "It'll be good to have Zeit back in there. He was having a great year, so hopefully he will pick up where he left off."

Meanwhile, the Bengals will be without a pair of linebackers this week. Rey Maualuga (hamstring) was listed as out on Friday's injury report, and Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder) was placed under the designation of doubtful. Lewis said it appeared Maualuga would miss "a couple weeks." He sounded a little more optimistic about Lamur, saying he hoped he would be back next week if he misses this week.

Both linebackers were run from the fourth quarter of last week's game against the Panthers with the injuries. They likely will be replaced by some combination of Vincent Rey, Jayson DiManche and Marquis Flowers. Safety Taylor Mays also would take on some of Lamur's responsibilities, as the player charged with covering tight ends in nickel coverages. As a result, Mays, who has averaged 2.4 defensive snaps a game, should get his most action of the season this week.

"Taylor gives us some flexibility from the coverage aspect of things from the back and then also from underneath. So that's good," Lewis said. "We play this week a group that has effective tight ends that are receivers, and next week [against Baltimore] we do again."

Here is the Bengals' full Friday injury report:

LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring)

WR A.J. Green (toe)
LB Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder)
DT Brandon Thompson (knee)

DE Wallace Gilberry (eye)
S George Iloka (groin)
OG Mike Pollak (knee)
OT Andre Smith (shoulder)
OG Kevin Zeitler (calf)