American Football

Bengals snap counts vs. Patriots: New reality for the o-line


Cincinnati Bengals v New York Giants
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Hakeem Adeniji returns to the starting lineup for good.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ 31-year playoff win drought was actually not the longest dry spell in franchise history. Before Saturday, Cincinnati had not won on the road against the New England Patriots since December 7th, 1986. Sam Wyche’s Bengals blew out the Patriots 31-7 thanks to 283 rushing yards from James Brooks and Stanley Wilson and an efficient passing game from Boomer Esiason.

Christmas Eve saw the Bengals finally win in Foxborough for the first time in 36 years, though it did not come easy. It never does against Bill Belichick, does it? Out-coaching him is much easier when the talent disparity is as wide as it was this week. Let’s see how the Bengals’ snaps played out during a whacky win,

Total Snaps

Despite New England’s second half surge, Cincinnati still out-snapped the home team 83 to 56. The Bengals averaged nearly 10 plays per drive in the first half, but couldn’t score on any of their seven second-half possessions. The Pats’ two offensive touchdown drives went for a combined 18 snaps, and their first touchdown was on defense.

The new normal

The worst was confirmed on Christmas Day as further tests revealed a torn ACL and MCL for right tackle La’el Collins, who suffered the injuries 19 snaps into Saturday’s game. In his place came Hakeem Adeniji (64), who finished the game and logged the most snaps he’s had in a single outing since last season as the starting right guard. Adeniji coming in to finish the game meant Max Scharping (9) had to take his place as the sixth offensive lineman in the team’s jumbo packages.

Having all this go down in the middle of the game wasn’t ideal for either player. Adeniji had some rough moments in pass protection, allowing five pressures in 45 pass blocking snaps, and Scharping was penalized twice. Adeniji is the presumed starter going forward at right tackle, but D’Ante Smith may take the place of Scharping as the first o-lineman off the bench.

Now deep in his third season, this is another chance for Adeniji to prove himself as a starter. While right guard didn’t work out for him last year, the former four-year collegiate starter’s natural spot is at tackle.

There he is again

Thrusting receivers into the game is a much easier ask compared to the big uglies up front. This is the second game in three weeks Trenton Irwin (37) has been called off the sidelines and found pay dirt. His two touchdowns doubled his total to four on the year, and he was a drop away from getting three on the day.

This season has been challenging for the Bengals’ starting receivers, and Irwin has been there ready to fill in ever since Ja’Marr Chase’s hip injury. He ended up playing just under half of the game due to Tyler Boyd either re-injuring his finger or jamming another one. The long lost son of Steve Irwin isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Trey and the gang

Mac Jones proved a bit difficult to corral in the pocket at times, but the Bengals’ defensive line managed to sack him four times and generate 21 pressures. They did this despite Sam Hubbard being sidelined with a calf injury and Pro Bowler Trey Hendrickson playing just 24 snaps with a still healing wrist injury.

Cam Sample (53) registered the highest percentage of snaps played in a single game since being drafted last year. Joseph Ossai (35) rotated alongside him for 28 passing snaps, as did Hendrickson for 19 drop backs. The trio combined for 12 pressures and 1.5 sacks in this new configuration.

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