Week 1 Power Rankings: Conquering the Chesapeake

Dalton & Co. finally slay the Ravens in Baltimore.

 

If you aren’t familiar with our weekly Bengals Power Rankings, this link will help to fill you in.

The games finally count, which means that Sunday’s victory over the Ravens is a real, true, on-the-road divisional win, the first of its kind in Baltimore since the Dalton-Green reboot of 2011. This one leaves a completely different taste in the team’s mouth than last season’s collapse in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears, and as Marvin Lewis likes to say, that’s a good thing. To the rankings.

“I was so tired, I couldn’t tell you…He said, ‘Hike,’ and I just took off.” —Wallace Gilberry

1. Andy Dalton
For better or worse, Dalton is usually the man in pole position on these weekly rankings. This week, it’s mostly for the better. It was a big game for Dalton following last year’s turdfest in the playoff game and the big offseason contract extension, plus the fact that it was in Baltimore, a place he had yet to win. He finished the day 25/38 (66%) for 301 yds (7.9 ypa), 1 TD, a 98.7 QB rating, +1.5 PFF grade (while passing…his running dropped his overall grade to +0.9), and most importantly, no turnovers. Aside from a few curious draws and option-read keepers—which should be limited to a few a season, rather than a few a week, in my opinion—he was solid, didn’t take too many stupid risks, handled the blitz well (more on that below), and threw an on-the-money deep ball to AJ Green for the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. On the road. Against a division rival. There was definitely some room for improvement (Football Outsiders noted that in Ravens’ territory, Dalton went 10/18, but for only 65 yds, three first downs, and no TDs, which led to the first-half field-goal frenzy). But if he can play like that CONSISTENTLY, the Bengals will be just fine.

2. AJ Green
He’s still good at the football. The 77-yard touchdown reception was a huge, clutch play, particularly making the Ravens safety look foolish. Even better were the post-game reports that AJ essentially called his own shot before they took the field for the game-winning score.

3. The Coordinators
A nice showing for both new guys, Hue Jackson and Paul Guenther. Jackson broke out some funky and fresh plays and formations that the Bengals kept under wraps in the preseason, and Guenther managed to send a few blitzes at just the right time to finish the day on top. In fact, aside from Pacman’s brain fart on the 80-yard TD to Steve Smith, the coverage was extremely sound considering that Joe Flacco threw the ball a total of 62 friggin’ times, completely only 35 of those attempts. It will be interesting to see how both of the coordinators progress as they get a better feel for their new positions.

4. Vontaze Burfict
If the four tackles (one for loss), one QB hit, +3.2 PFF grade, and overall maniacal energy in only 23 snaps isn’t evidence enough of how important he is to the Bengals’ defense, the noticeable holes after he left with a concussion sealed the deal. Let’s hope that concussion is a very minor one.

5. Wallace Gilberry
Despite the best efforts of Margus Hunt, Gilberry still holds the belt for best name on the roster. He also rocked Flacco on the Ravens’ final two snaps of the game to secure victory.

Honorable Mention: The endless blimp glory shots of the Chesapeake Bay coming back from commercial, Mike Nugent’s right leg, the massive and gross dent in Tyler Eifert’s elbow.

The Steelers continue to terrorize AFC North punters

I have yet to watch this and not laugh. (GIF via SB Nation)

 

Andy Dalton Gets Blizted
This is the first of what I plan to be a weekly look at how Dalton handles blitzes by the opposing defense. As I’ve written about before on this blog, Dalton’s statistics show a clear and obvious struggle against the blitz, even more than basic pressure, and even if the blitz doesn’t actually result in pressure. (Yeah, I know, it makes no sense.) This week, results were positive. On the nine passing plays in which the Ravens sent a blitz, Dalton went 6/9 for 188 yds (13.1 ypa), the touchdown, a 146.8 QB rating, and a +1.6 PFF grade.

 

The weekly Madden GIFerator creation

In case you want to waste hours of your day on sophomoric humor. (Who doesn’t?)

 

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