The Bengals offensive line entered this game allowing the fewest pressures in the NFL. They have not thrown as much as other teams, but when you adjust for pressure allowed percentage, they are still top 10. Pass blocking was a problem for this group a year ago, so it was shocking to see them first in that category three weeks in. With them on the national stage for the first time in 2021, the OLS focus coming into this game was going to be on examining whether those numbers are fluky or can this group legitimately hold up in pass pro. After examining every throw Joe Burrow made in the game, the Bengals may have a legitimate pass-blocking offensive line. Now, the Bengals coaching staff is doing a great job of game-planning to help their offensive line, unlike that team in Chicago, by calling a lot of screens, utilizing play-action, and having Burrow get the ball out of his hands quick. But, when asked to pass protect in obvious pass situations where Burrow needed to get the ball down the field, they succeeded last night. In this game, the Bengals gave Burrow a clean pocket on 90% of his pass attempts on non-screen pass plays.
The first play is Joe Burrow's longest completion of the night, a 44-yard pass to Jamar Chase. Riley Reiff, the RT, is initially overpowered on the bull-rush, but he anchors just good enough to stop the defender's momentum. Overall, this is a good all-around pass pro effort. The freeze-frame shows that no defender is near Burrow when he released the ball.
The next play is a 25-yard completion to Trenton Irwin. This is textbook pass pro from all five offensive linemen as they dominated the Jags front on this play. Both tackles completely stall the ends. Trey Hopkins and Jackson Carman, the C and RG, have a great double team. Quinton Spain, the LG, completely negates his defender. Burrow probably could have held it another 3-4 seconds on that play.
This next play is an incompletion on a deep throw down the right side-line to Chase. Some might think the Jags got a little pressure by the freeze-frame, but no. It was about four seconds later, and the ball was out before any Jaguar defender got near Burrow. Reiff does a good job of running the defender up the field. Williams negated Josh Allen's inside rush by washing him down, and the interior was completely closed off.
Play four is just a routine check-down throw that goes for seven yards. It may not make any highlight shows, but it should make the pass-pro highlight reel because no Jaguar defender ever gets close to Burrow. They do such a good job on this play that Carman is just standing around bored. Sure he should be helping someone since there is clearly no blitz threat, but I will not nitpick with a pocket that clean.
Play five is an inconsequential short pass for no gain. However, the Bengals o-line provided another great pocket for Burrow to operate from. The Jags do a great job covering multiple crossers, but it may have helped Burrow take advantage of this excellent protection if Mixon went out on an actual route instead of just standing at the bottom of the screen.
At this point, one might be wondering if the Jaguars ever blitzed because their four-man rush was so ineffective. Well, they did, and it was equally ineffective. In this next play, the Jags have all six box players at the LOS. However, it is a bluff, and the two LBs retreat while the slot corner blitzes. Thanks to a well-designed protection scheme that utilizes Samaje Perine essentially as an H-back and the TE making a timely chip, the Bengals do a great job of getting it blocked, and Burrow completes a 25-yard strike to Chase for a first-down.
In play seven, the Jags send another slot corner blitz. This time it is more straightforward as no box defenders are tipping blitz. Reiff and Carman do an excellent job sorting it, with Reiff initially striking the DE to allow Carman time to get over, and then Reiff picks up the blitzing corner.
This next play shows the Jaguars attempt at a zone blitz. Both Lbs come while the right DE drops into coverage. The ball is out quick but judging from the freeze-frame it would not have mattered as the Bengals entire o-line quickly diagnoses this blitz and does a great job picking it up.
The Jaguars do not have an elite defensive line, but they are a team that has managed to get some pressure throughout their first few games. For the Bengals to almost complete shut their pass rush down and keep Burrow so clean is very impressive. The Bengals are now 3-1, Burrow is off to a great start, and while nobody is talking about it, their offensive line is a key reason why.