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Film Breakdown: Three Key Players From the Bengals' Thursday Night Win Over the Jaguars

Cincinnati improved to 3-1 for the first time since 2018.

The Bengals certainly gave their fans a scare on Thursday night when the Jaguars were at the 1-yard line looking to go up 21-0 in the final seconds of the first half. Instead of allowing the Jaguars to continue pounding them, the Bengals turned the game around with a goal-line stand. 

Holding serve and staying within 14-points allowed them to comeback in the second half and win the game. Joe Burrow had one of the best games of his young career, partially due to Tyler Boyd’s shifty route running, and Trey Hendrickson consistently winning around the edge was a game changer on defense. 

Let's take a closer look at all three performances. 

Another Stellar Performance From QB1

Joe Burrow was fantastic against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he finished with just 18 pass attempts. He had no need to take over the game through the air. That changed against Jacksonville, as the Bengals were down multiple scores at halftime. Let’s watch some of the most impressive plays from Burrow in this game.

This is the first play of the game for the Bengals' offense. They are running a naked boot off of toss action. This means that Burrow will fake a toss going to his right and then will gain depth and run out wide to his left. The corner to the boundary where Burrow is rolling out flies off of the edge either confused by the play fake or on a cat blitz. This doesn’t allow Burrow to set his feet and launch the deep ball to Ja’Marr Chase, but he still makes the best out of the situation by getting the ball underneath to Boyd. 

Making the throw while rolling to the left perfectly in stride is harder than it looks. He is rolling away from his dominant hand so he has to throw the ball without any help from his base. Boyd then sprints upfield and turns it into a big gain for the Bengals. This was a great play from the young quarterback that has gone under the radar.

Related: Joe Burrow Has Turned Biggest Weakness Into a Strength

This was one of the first plays of the second half for the Bengals. Another explosive gain as Burrow uncorks a deep ball to Chase. The idea of this play is to isolate their best deep threat (Ja’Marr Chase) on a go route. It works perfectly and Burrow puts the ball right in the perfect spot. The Jaguars are in single-high coverage which means that the safety will not realistically get there in time to break up this pass. Especially considering that the Jaguars post safety starts to drop from outside of the opposite hash. While it was not a touchdown this was still a perfect throw for an explosive play. Something the Bengals offense sorely lacked last year.

Similar to the first clip, Burrow rolls to his left again with a defender in his face. Instead of a shallow crosser this time, the Bengals have C.J. Uzomah on a slide/sneak route. The main difference between a shallow and a slide is that the slide works across the field behind the line of scrimmage rather than beyond the line. What every good quarterback needs on this play is a guy that can run after the catch. Uzomah helps turn a good play from Burrow into a great one with a nasty stiff-arm and run into the end zone. Again it’s similar to the first play by being a throw that is harder than it looks on first glance. Rolling away from his dominant hand and perfectly dropping a throw over a blitzing defender.

Similar to the second clip of this section, the Bengals’ goal on this play is to isolate the outside wide receiver on a deep route. Trenton Irwin is the player running the deep ball on this play. It’s an out-n-up from Irwin that he runs very well. You could argue that this ball was underthrown, but I do think Burrow wanted to put it on the back shoulder to help defend the receiver from taking a shot from the safety. Through training camp and the preseason, Irwin has shown a great ability to catch that back-shoulder throw. Even if it was underthrown, sometimes it is better to be lucky than it is to be perfect.

This play is a pick play designed to get the ball to the wheel route. A pick and wheel or “raven” concept that the Bengals have utilized heavily under Zac Taylor. The Jaguars misplay it some by having both defenders travel with the wheel rather than switch or stay with their men. This would normally be an easy pitch and catch to the guy who set the pick, but the Jaguars dropped a defender off of the line into that passing window. Burrow then shows the improvisation that he used to win the Heisman trophy at LSU. Uzomah goes with him and Burrow puts the ball perfectly on him while rolling to his left. Another touchdown for the tight end as he's able to turn upfield and fly into the endzone.

This was the final throw of the day for Burrow and it was the throw that won the game for the Bengals. The Jaguars are in a clear Cover 0 look which means that it will be a man blitz with no one deep. The Jaguars are going to bring more guys than the Bengals can block and force the ball out quickly. You can see this from the “flat” contour the defensive backs give.

coverage contour

With flat contour, it’s either quarters or a man blitz. The Jaguars’ pressure look means this is most likely a man blitz. Burrow audibles to a jailbreak screen to the perimeter. With the right tackle sprinting out to block this gives the Bengals the numbers advantage to the perimeter on this play. Uzomah again shows off his run after catch ability and gets the ball down the field for a chip shot field goal. The perfect audible to set up the winning kick.

Tyler Boyd Sauce

With all of the new young faces on the Bengals offense, Boyd has become a forgotten weapon. This is not an indictment of his talent, because as he showed on Thursday he clearly still has plenty of talent. He is also finally being utilized to the best of his abilities by this coaching staff. This short-area quickness and shiftiness from Boyd allows him to really separate against underneath defenders as well as his intermediate prowess.

Here Boyd is running a crossing route against an outside leverage corner. This is just easy money for a receiver like him that can just push vertical and run away from the corner. Nothing extra really needs to be done from Boyd to win on this route. Just good football from him and the quarterback.

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Now we get into Boyd having the freedom on this play to do pretty much whatever he wants. This concept is called Hoss Y Juke and was heavily utilized by New England with Wes Welker and Julien Edelman.

hossyjuke

If you want to see more on the juke route, read my article after the Bears game where I go over some of the passing concepts that are working well for Cincinnati. 

Boyd likes to get saucy and fake along the way like Welker used to do in New England. The only coaching point for that is to not look at the quarterback until you are ready for the ball. On this play, Boyd pushes further vertical than normal, skips, and then breaks back to the ball outside. This had Myles Jack all kinds of messed up, but then he finishes him off by breaking back to the inside afterward to run after the catch. Jack is reaching for Boyd as he stumbles across the grass to no avail.

Boyd gets even more saucy with his route running on this juke route. He is lined up against another linebacker running the juke route as part of Hoss Y Juke. Boyd wants to cross the defender up to create more room for more run after catch ability. With the defender giving inside leverage, Boyd wants him to commit to the outside. To get the defender to commit he runs, turns inside, and then gives a shimmy fake to the outside. 

With the defender sprinting to take away the outbreaking route, Boyd cuts it back to the inside for an easy catch. The juke route is both a man and zone beater and is really a free 5-10 yards every time without a bracket. It's hard to cover all of the Bengals’ weapons when they are all playing at this high of a level.

Trey Hendrickson Providing Pressure

Through the first few weeks, Hendrickson has really been worth the money he was given this offseason. He has displayed the high motor, speed off the line, and hand usage that got him double digit sacks this past season. Against the Jaguars it was more of the same as he applied a ton of pressure to Lawrence over the course of the game.

Hendrickson is trying to speed rush around the edge for pressure. He tries to beat the left tackle to the spot to do so. He does not get a clear victory but uses a rip move to get clean around the edge. Trevor Lawrence helps him out by drifting to the back of the pocket and hanging around there rather than stepping up. Hendrickson is able to pressure Lawrence and then shows off his high motor chasing him around until the pass is thrown incomplete.

A similar play on this pass rush. Hendrickson is using a speed rush to get around the outside and then a rip move to disengage. You could argue the left tackle is holding on the play, but remember that when a defender uses a rip move the referees are not typically going to throw a flag for this type of hold. It is even in the rule book about letting contact like this go when a rip move is utilized. Hendrickson still gets around the outside for a clear win and pressure again.

NFL Gamepass decided to just blackout the end zone angle of this pass rush, but this was a variation from just the typical speed rush. On this rep, Hendrickson tries to two-hand swipe around the outside and then rip through the final contact. The swipe beats the left tackle’s hands on the play and gives Hendrickson the leverage needed to get a sack. Called back for holding on Vonn Bell, but it was a clean win for the young pass rusher.

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Finally, we have Hendrickson just bullying a tight end off the line of scrimmage straight back into the quarterback. Hendrickson is the type of guy that cannot be blocked by a tight end. He will bully smaller tight ends into pressures against the quarterback or even sacks if he gets enough time.

I am excited to see all three of these players going forward. They all had spectacular games this past week and get another chance to showcase their ability against Green Bay coming up.

For more film breakdowns, go here.

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