Red Zone Report: Week 8 versus Los Angeles Rams

Mike Vannucci

They had four drives get into the red zone, and only came away with a total of 10 points. Thats too many points left on the field for them to overcome what was an uphill battle, playing a better Rams team.

The Bengals rank 31st in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage at 33%, only ahead of the Arizona Cardinals. They scored a touchdown on only one of their four red zone drives on Sunday. (https://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/red-zone-scoring-pct)

Lets take a look at each play the Bengals ran inside their opponents 20-yard line.

The Bengals get set up at the Rams 18-yard line following a big conversion on 4th & 2; an inside fade to Tyler Boyd.

1st & GL @ the Rams 14

Here the Bengals are working a drive concept, with an under from Boyd and a dig from Erickson behind it. The Rams have 6 defensive backs on the field here and are playing man coverage. They cover it well; it would be nice to see Dalton's internal clock take over here. He comes off of his first and second read, once his third is covered; it's time to throw this thing way. It could have been sailed over Mixon's head to the sideline to save some yardage. The offensive line has their hands full with Donald & Fowler, this has to be out quicker. Also, the Rams present a 4-1 box, with 6 defensive backs on the field. It would be nice to see Dalton check to a run here; with 1:55 left in the first quarter, there is no clock limitations.

2nd & 18 @ the Rams 22 (the sack took the Bengals out of the red zone - but this is still a red zone drive)

The Bengals get back on schedule here with a big completion on a deep out to Erickson. The Bengals are in a reduced split here with their receivers, and Erickson sprays to the outside shoulder of his cover defender. The corner is off, and there is cushion so he rolls it over. A nicely timed throw here by Dalton. 

After a false start penalty, the potential 3rd and 5 becomes a 3rd and 10. 

3rd & 10 @ the Rams 13

A questionable play call here on 3rd and long. The Bengals come out in a double tight end set; with both to the right of the formation, attached. They both release on vertical routes, with Giovanni Bernard running an under route. For a brief moment it looks like the coverage is going to lift and run with the verticals. However the linebacker passes off the inside seam to the safety and drives Bernards low route. This would indicate zone coverage, along with the corner being aligned over Bernard split out wide. If so, the vertical from Eifert, which is getting width and depth, may have been the more desirable target here. 

After an 11 play, 65-yard drive; the Bengals settle for a field goal.

About mid-way through the 2nd quarter, Bengals marched the ball into the red zone once again. Their red zone drive starts at the Rams 15-yard line.

1st & 10 @ the Rams 15

The Bengals start off with an inside run to Mixon, who looked explosive all day. The offensive line does a nice job getting a bit of a push. The right guard and right tackle get a solid double team from the (what looks like) 3 technique to the mike linebacker. The safety ends up making the play here; the receiver split to the right could have taken a flat angle to dig him out. This would have put Mixon one on one with the corner, Ramsey. 

2nd & 6 @ the Rams 11

On second down the Bengals align in a tight bunch to the left of the formation. They run . play action off of a misdirection play to the right; Dalton boots left. They run a flood variation (three receivers running routes to the same side, at various depths). Here they have the deep route of the flood run by Erickson who is running what looks like a circus route. The intermediate route is coming from Tate, who aligns in a nasty/reduced split on the backside of the formation. Finally, the route that is thrown to is the "low" route. Uzomah is running a slam route here, blocking for a second prior to releasing to the flat. Uzomah doesn't get much of the rusher, so Dalton has to get rid of the ball immediately to the low route. The Bengals get a gracious roughing the passer call here at the end of the play. This gives them a 1st and Goal.

1st & GL @ the Rams 3

The Bengals are running a zone scheme to the right. The play has some promise, but the 1-technique to the left of the defense is able to shed the block of the right guard and wrap-up Mixon. Mixon gets the ball down to the one yard line. 

2nd & GL @ the Rams 1

The Bengals make the right play call here on 2nd and Goal. They do a nice job motioning the receiver to the right and then back to the left to clear the right side of the field. They fake the jet sweep to the motion, and Dalton is booting right. This puts the end man on the line of scrimmage, Fowler, in a bind. If he peels with Mixon out of the backfield, Dalton has to take it on his own. Since Fowler rushes Dalton, Mixon is uncovered. There is no chance for the backer inside the box to get to the flat to cover Mixon. The only way the Rams had a chance to defend this is if Fowler peeled, or ran, with Mixon while the inside linebacker tried to beat Dalton to the goal line. Touchdown Bengals.

This play capped an 11 play, 75-yard drive, and tied the game at 10.

After a big 4th down reception on a 4th & 13 from Tyler Boyd (dig route), the Bengals are set up with their third red zone drive.

1st & GL @ the Rams 9

The Bengals run a zone scheme here on first down, and the center leaves the double team with the left guard a bit early. You'll notice the nose split the double and make the tackle on Giovanni Bernard for a modest gain.

2nd & GL @ the Rams 6

The Bengals take a shot to Tate here on second down. He's running an out route, but since the field is condensed, the defender isn't threatened by Tate's vertical stem. The defender is able to keep both feet in the ground, and is prepared to break on any in/out breaking route. Tate tries to speed cut here, but since there is no cushion, the defender is able to basically run the route with Tate. When the defender is squatted at or near our route depth, we must create separation with a hip-shift or crossover type move. 

If you've seen any of the previous Red Zone, or Receiver Reports, this teach tape may look familiar. This is what is meant when the terms "hip-shift" or "crossover" are used.

Square v LOWsquatty
Teach Tape: Winning In/Out Breakers versus Low Cover Defender

3rd & GL @ the Rams 6

The Bengals try to get the ball to Eifert here an an in-cut. It's a nice play design with the low hitch route pulling the hook curl defender to open the window for the in-breaker behind it. However the spacing is a bit tight. The ball is delivered to high for Eifert. This play has a chance if it is delivered more on target, and Eifert is given the opportunity to use his size.

4th & GL @ the Rams 6

This fourth down play is a designed screen all the way. The two inside receivers are tight ends who release off the ball to block for the in breaking route of Stanley Morgan Jr. With Ramsey matched up on him, this is a difficult play-call to understand. The inside linebacker also has nothing influencing him, so he is flying right out to the route that is coming in from Morgan Jr. An interesting play call. 

Another long drive by the Bengals that results in no points; the Bengals had the opportunity to make this a one score game. 

After a few chunk plays, the Bengals get the ball down inside the red zone once again; this time with the game slightly out of reach. The Bengals spiked the ball on first down. 

2nd & 10 @ the Rams 18

The Bengals take a shot to Auden Tate here. Tate seems to pull-up expecting a true jump ball; either Dalton was trying to throw a back shoulder, or he overthrows Tate.

3rd & 10 @ the Rams 18

Eifert runs a dig route (deep in breaking route) right off of the vertical stem of Uzomah and the ball is delivered on target and on time by Dalton. This sets the Bengals up for a 1st and Goal. They spike the ball on 1st down setting up 2nd and Goal.

2nd & GL @ the Rams 4

The Bengals look to Boyd, who's running a slant right off of the vertical stem of Auden Tate. This is on Boyd for getting his head out of his break late. However, it seems Dalton knew where he was going the entire time. You'll notice the free player, Eric Weddle reading Dalton's eyes here. They take him right to Boyd, and it would have been interesting to say the least if Boyd would have made an attempt at this ball. You'd like to see Dalton do something to freeze Weddle for a split second. 

3rd & GL @ the Rams 4

Here the Bengals target the big Auden Tate on a simple stop route. He's able to establish position in the end zone, similar to a box out in basketball, and use his long arms to get his hands on the ball. However, as you'll see, he is unable to control the catch to the ground.

4th & GL @ the Rams 4

Similar to last week, the Bengals have a chance for a "garbage time" touchdown. However, this time they don't punch it in. After his first reads are covered, Dalton is forced to scramble and finally has to take a shot to Tate in the back of the end zone; it's overthrown. 

The Bengals red zone struggles continue, and they were on full display Sunday. They left approximately 18 points on the field. Only time will tell if the return of AJ Green, who has been a red zone weapon throughout his career, can aid this offense as it gets down inside the opponent's red zone. 

The Bengals have a much needed bye this week, and it'll be interesting to monitor any activity they make near the trade deadline. For the sake of their red zone offense, they may want to hang on to AJ Green. 

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