The Cincinnati Bengals have been using their uncertainty at their offensive tackles positions as an opportunity to use a rotation of players, using reserve Andre Smith—formerly a five-year starter at right tackle—at both spots for long stretches in place of Cedric Ogbuehi on the left side and Jake Fisher on the right.
The Pittsburgh Steelers did a bit of countering, occasionally flipping their outside linebackers, Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt to the opposite side. While this is not completely out of left field for them—they have done is previously this season—it was apparently intentional in response to the Bengals’ tackle-flipping.
Asked after the game on Sunday about the rotation of the outside linebackers, the rookie Watt said, “we knew that they had a three-man rotation at tackle coming into the week. And I think we just wanted to get a piece of everybody”.
Both in their third year, former first-round pick Ogbuehi and second-rounder Fisher have yet to establish themselves as quality players at the NFL level. Each of them had a shot at taking over the right tackle position a year ago, and neither of them were able to stick, ultimately going to the bench.
“Bud and I, we can rush from both sides. So we wanted to switch it up a bit to kind of break up the monotony of going against the same side every single time”, Watt continued in his response to the aforementioned question.
And, he added, “I think it really helped and just kind of gave the guy the perspective of what’s on the other side”. He said that the defensive coaches and edge-rushers “definitely have pitches that we can throw on the left or right side”.
Though both Watt and Dupree each recorded a sack against the Bengals on their ‘native’ sides—Watt on the right and Dupree on the left—perhaps it is notable that both of them were created off of inside stunts, rather than going the long way around the tackle.
Both of the outside linebackers also had other shots at the quarterback that they failed to take full advantage of, a fact of which Watt is fully aware. “We are going to be kicking ourselves tomorrow when we watch film because we were so close so many times”, he said. “But, at the end of the day, we got the job done. We got to him enough”.
The Steelers were able to sack Andy Dalton four times in the second half on Sunday as they held the Bengals scoreless over the third and fourth quarters. Cameron Heyward and Tyson Alualu were credited with the other two sacks, though the latter was set up by initial pressure from Dupree.