Line keying Bengals offensive surge
OCT 28, 2013 9:51p ET
Sacks can come from multiple factors but regardless of how they happen they’re usually attributed to the line. It’s a pride thing for offensive linemen.
The only sack the Bengals gave up in Sunday’s 49-9 rout of the Jets came when Andy Dalton stepped out of bounds short of the line of scrimmage on a naked bootleg. New York’s defense didn’t bite on the fake and Dalton didn’t bother to throw the ball away when he had a chance.
“I knew as soon as I stepped out of bounds, I was like, 'Well, that was dumb.' I'm sure I'm going to hear about it,” said Dalton. “But that was definitely my fault.”
Don’t think the Bengals offensive linemen didn’t notice. On a day in which the only quarterback hit registered by the Jets was when defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson nudged Dalton out of bounds on the sack, it was noticed.
“We were kind of pissed that the one sack we gave up he ran out of bounds,” said left guard Clint Boling with a smile creasing across his face. “You take pride in taking care of your quarterback and keeping Andy and the pocket clean. You take pride that he doesn’t get hit a lot. That’s obviously a big accomplishment. When we do give him time he’s shown the ability to make plays and throw it to guys all over the field. That’s why it’s important to keep the protection going.”
What happened when they gave Dalton that kind of protection against the Jets was a 325-yard, five-touchdown performance -- four of them going to Marvin Jones -- against what was the No. 4-ranked defense in the NFL. The Bengals posted their third straight game with more than 400 yards of total offense while scoring their most points in a game since a 58-48 win against Cleveland in 2004.
“You talk about Andy and Marv and it’s not possible without them giving Andy time to see,” said offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. “ Kyle Cook and Andy getting us into the right protections and handling some of their tough blitzes. It was a total team effort.”
Cook was out most of last year with an ankle injury, including a 17-13 loss to Miami. The Bengals play at Miami on Thursday. Cook is responsible for making the offensive line calls each play but everyone along the line has to make their own assessment of the defense they see in front of them and anticipate the call Cook is going to make.
The Bengals have found their offensive rhythm in large part because the line has found its rhythm.
“If people see something and they make a call, we all rely on that whether it’s a tackle, whether it’s a quarterback, whether it’s a tight end relaying information to us that will help us make the play,” said Cook. “Also, (they’re) listening. That’s the biggest thing. Some guys, especially when they’re young, they come up there and they try to figure it out on their own and they miss a call here and there. Whereas if you come up see it, hear the call, it all takes care of itself.”
Dalton has thrown for 300 yards or more in three straight games for the first time in his career. If he does it Thursday night against the Dolphins he would become the first quarterback in franchise history to do so in four consecutive games.
He knows where to give the credit.
“They're playing really well,” said Dalton of his primary protectors. “They've given me plenty of time back there to do everything that I've been able to do. They've been playing really well. We've had some good challenges the last couple weeks, some really good fronts, and we've got another good front this week. So they've accepted everything, came out and played physical, played tough. They've been playing some great football.”
Miami comes into the game 20th in overall defense and 14th against the pass. The Dolphins, who are on a four-game losing streak, have allowed only Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck and Drew Brees of New Orleans to throw for 300 yards against them this season.
“When Andy’s upright and clean he can make all of the throws in the NFL but when there’s pressure that’s when things change,” said right tackle Andre Smith. “Our goal is to keep him clean so he can make all of the throws.”
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