Week 1 was not kind to the Cincinnati Bengals in Cleveland weather wise or schematically as it pertained to the game plan on how to attack the Browns secondary offensively. The offensive line was ill-prepared for new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s attacking defense with Myles Garrett as the centerpiece. Garrett was used as a chess piece on the field, being moved around the line of scrimmage from a 3-technique defensive tackle to traditional defensive end and even as a linebacker standing up over the center and guard to blitz. That type of usage would not be a surprise in a 3-4 Defense where a defensive end/linebacker may be asked to rush the quarterback and then go cover, but for a 4-3 four down linemen with three linebackers that had to be a new wrinkle Zac Taylor and Brain Callahan were not ready to account for. That game tape or coaches’ film is now available to all 32 teams.
Mike MacDonald who took over for the blitz happy Don “Wink” Martindale for the Baltimore Ravens likes to play a 4-3 defense and mix his coverages such as split safety (two deep safety) coverages like quarters, cover 6 quarter, quarter half, and Tampa 2 safety (two deep zone) that makes a quarterback have to be patient in contrast to Wink Martindale leaving his cornerbacks in man-to-man in order to bring pressure up front. When leaving cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage you become susceptible to deep passes that Joe Burrow has executed in the past against Baltimore by throwing for over 500 yards. MacDonald’s defenses want to cloud the throwing picture for a quarterback and keep receivers in front of the secondary, run to the ball and gang tackle without allowing YAC (yards after the catch).
Looking at the injury report, the Ravens have key starters not practicing that look to be out for a pivotal AFC North division showdown in the Jungle of Cincinnati at Paycor stadium. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley, center Tyler Linderbaum, defensive backs Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Williams all have injuries that may keep them out. With these key injuries for the Ravens the Bengals must capitalize defensively by getting pressure on Lamar Jackson. The Bengals defense will key on Lamar as his favorite target Mark Andrews is banged up and did not play in Week 1 with an ankle injury. Former Ohio State Buckeye J.K. Dobbins also tore his ACL again and is out for the season so the bulk of the running game will fall upon Lamar and possibly veteran Melvin Gordon (former Bronco and Charger) if they call him up from the practice squad. Offensively the Bengals passing game should get healthy as the Ravens do not have the dominant premiere pass rushers of years past like Terrell Suggs, Yannick Ngakuoe, Matthew Judon, or Calais Campbell. With the Ravens secondary in a shambles Joe Burrow and the big three wide receivers should get healthy and make fantasy football owners happy in Week 2. Injuries from a Bengals perspective look encouraging as everyone is remarkably healthy besides Cam Sample (ankle), Joseph Assai (ankle), and LB Markus Bailey who all practiced but were limited on Thursday of this week. RB Chris Evans (hamstring) did not practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday.
Looking at both teams, the Bengals seem to be the healthier team heading in to this AFC North divisional showdown at home where Cincinnati looks to bounce back and be victorious!