Bengals vs. Browns Week 8 Scouting Report: Grades and Key Matchups

Cleveland Browns rushing

This Scouting Report for Monday night’s Bengals-Browns game is produced by The 33rd Team’s Scouting Department, led by former Eagles, Cardinals, and Ravens personnel executive T.J. McCreight and assisted by scouts Justin Casey, Kevin Cohn, and Evan Pritt.

 Burrow & Bengals’ WR Trio vs. Browns’ Secondary

  • The Bengals’ offense was terrible in its first game of the season against Pittsburgh. It was playing a brand-new offensive line from the previous season, and it did not play much in the preseason. That first game was really its first action together as a unit. In that game Joe Burrow was sacked seven times.
  • This unit has settled down. Burrow has not been kept totally clean, but they are protecting him much better, and he is getting rid of the football.
  • This group of skill players is very difficult to defend, and they have top level talent. Ja’Marr Chase is tied for second with 34 first downs receiving and is tough to stop down the field.
  • The Bengals are fifth in the NFL with 278 yards passing per game and seventh with 24.7 points per game.
  • The issue with stopping this offense is you have to look beyond their number one wideout Chase. Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins CAN beat you. This is just too many weapons to go along with an extremely accurate quarterback.
  • Browns corner Denzel Ward has been in concussion protocol since Week 5 and is a big question mark to play on Monday night. Former first-round pick corner Greg Newsome has had some struggles and has not had an interception in his NFL career.
  • Grant Delpit is a talented player, but he gives up too many plays and has not lived up to his potential. This secondary looks much better on paper than they do on the field. I just see too many holes and too many breakdowns, but they do play well for stretches.
  • The Browns are in the middle of the pack giving up 210 yards per game passing and 28th in the league giving up 26 points per game.
  • The Browns must generate a pass rush on Burrow and get Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney active and productive.
  • I expect a big game for the Bengals’ offense. I don’t see the Browns being able to handle this offense. Just a note: Joe Burrow has never beaten Cleveland.

Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney vs. Bengals’ OTs

  • Garrett is tied for second in QB pressures (33) and tied for fifth in sacks (six) despite missing one game after his car accident in September. He is as rare as it gets with a long frame and thick lower body to go along with explosiveness and excellent lower body flexibility. He uses his hands well and works his counter moves. He is hit with all kinds of double teams and chips. He is just too much for most tackles to handle 1-on-1 on a consistent basis.
  • Clowney has missed three games dealing with an ankle injury that he suffered the second game of the season. He has 1.5 sacks and two passes batted down. He has never lived up to the expectations he had coming out of college, but he is still a productive player in his ninth year. He’s not a technician with his hands, and he does not have great lower body flexion. He plays hard, and he shows good ball awareness while engaged. He’ll win with get-off, a hard inside move or with brute power. He does not show much counter and he will get stuck on blocks. He will expose his chest when he changes direction. He shows good discipline recognizing screens and boot action and uses his length to make throws more difficult.
  • You see the difference between Clowney and Garrett when they come off the edge. Garrett is able to run the hoop and re-trace to chase a QB who is stepping up in the pocket while Clowney struggles to maintain his balance and is run up the field.
  • 2022 third-round pick Alex Wright has played the second most snaps of the DE rotation with 51.6%. He does not have a sack and only has eight pressures, but he has batted down three passes which is tied for fourth in the league. He’s a long lumbering body. His greatest strength is his length in passing lanes and to close the gap on a ball carrier or QB. He flashes some shock in his hands, but he is a long way from being a 1-on-1 pass rush threat. He may be better suited to play inside when he adds some strength.
  • The Bengals gave up 13 sacks in the first two games and 12 in the last five. That total of 25 is 31st in the league. Early in the season they gave up some free runners, which is not necessarily all on the OL. While they have improved, they need to get much better as a group for this offense to reach its full potential.
  • LT Jonah Williams has been credited with allowing the most sacks in the league (six), and RT La’el Collins has been credited with allowing three, which is tied for 19th.
  • Williams is a good but not great athlete who lacks ideal mass and length for a LT. He is a good technician with patient hands and a good punch rate. He connects and keeps his hands inside the frame. He is patient with his feet and a good enough athlete to redirect and mirror. He has been beaten by a variety of moves: Power, speed, spins, and bend. It’s not one type of rusher that he struggles with, it’s the elite athletic traits that they have that he lacks. They have already faced Micah Parsons, Demarcus Lawrence, T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, and Cam Jordan. Garrett is a combination of all of them and then some, so Williams will need some help in this game.
  • Collins is slow-footed and slow with his hands. He will whiff and is susceptible to an inside move. He doesn’t give up on the play and will keep working to the whistle. He has strong hands when he does connect and latch on.
  • The Bengals have been blitzed at the lowest rate in the league and still have given up the second-most sacks, and yet Burrow’s snap to release is the fourth-fastest in the league. While they have the weapons to attack defenses, they have to be selective in order to protect Burrow and an offensive line that is growing together as a group.

Nick Chubb vs. Bengals’ Defensive Front

  • Nick Chubb has been the most productive back in the league so far this season. Chubb ranks first in yards at 740 and TDs with eight. Chubb ranks fifth among running backs with an average of 5.87 yards per carry. He has been a focal point of the Browns’ offense with the third-most carries in football at 126. Chubb is a good athlete, he doesn’t blow you away, but he has good enough athleticism to play productive football. Chubb wins on patience and instincts. He does a really good job of letting the hole develop in front of him and staying patient. He is a smart player; he knows when to cut back and when to take what is in front of him. He is a grinder; he can churn out four or five yards and keep the team on schedule. He has fantastic contact balance; he bounces off defenders and keeps his feet. He has good speed in the open field and can gain big chunks of yards. Chubb has good power to run through contact and break tackles. He does a great job on the goal line, as well. He can drive through the hole or go over the top of the pile to get in the end zone. Chubb is a workhorse number one back. He is reliable, smart and can handle the workload the Browns have placed on him.
  • The Bengals’ run defense has been a weak spot for them this season. They are currently averaging 119 rush yards per game allowed, which ranks 19th, and 4.58 rushing yards per play, which ranks 20th. The Bengals don’t get a great push up front from their defensive tackles. B.J. Hill and Josh Tupou primarily play in the middle for Cincinnati. Both Hill and Tupou are more stand your ground space-eaters than guys who are going to drive the guards into the backfield. They play tough and play with a high motor but are not dominant by any means. Logan Wilson is an athletic off-the-ball linebacker but leaves a lot to be desired in the run game. He does not want to stick his nose in there and clog up holes. He struggles to shed blocks and doesn’t deliver blows to offensive lineman climbing to the second level. He wants to shield from contact rather than being the aggressor. The Bengals have used both Germaine Pratt and Akeem Davis-Gaither in the middle. Both are solid run players. Pratt flows well and plays with good aggression. He is willing to take on blocks and fight through contact. He has solid eyes and reads his keys well to find the ball. He is not afraid to get in the hole and deliver contact on the runner. Davis-Gaither also plays with good aggression. He doesn’t quite have the same vision as Pratt, but he plays hard and doesn’t shy away. The Bengals don’t give up a ton of big runs, but they are susceptible to a running back who can grind it out.
  • This is not a great matchup for the Bengals. They will give up yards on the ground and are matched up with a running back in Chubb who will take what is there. They will need to stay disciplined in their gaps and not allow Chubb to cut back and create more yards. They need to do a good job of getting Chubb on the ground as he has great contact balance and can stay on his feet with undisciplined tackling. I expect Chubb to get his yards. The Browns need to identify this as a weakness for the Bengals and stick with the run. The last few weeks Chubb could have had even more productive days if the Browns would have just stayed with it.

Extra Points

  • The Bengals have not given up a TD in the second half all season.
  • This game is always big for the Brown family. It runs very deep and everyone within the organization understands how big it is. The Cleveland Browns were named after his father!
  • Joe Burrow has never beaten the Cleveland Browns.

Bengals’ Keys to Victory

  • Put the game into Jacoby Brissett’s hands and take it away from Nick Chubb and the Browns’ run game. Make Brissett beat you, especially later in the game.
  • Give Burrow enough time to attack a vulnerable Browns’ back end that has given up big pass plays all season long.

Browns’ Keys to Victory

  • Find a way to get Kareem Hunt involved in the game and take advantage of his ability.
  • One of their skill players must step up and compensate for the loss of injured tight end David Njoku. Njoku has had a solid season and the Browns will miss his production.

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