What We Saw: Week 8

The QB List staff catches you up on everything you missed during Week 8 of the 2020 NFL season.

Titans @ Bengals

 

The Cincinnati Bengals jumped out to a 10-0 lead and dominated time of possession to surprisingly knock off the Tennessee Titans 31-20. Despite missing four of five starters on the offensive line, Joe Burrow played efficient football, kept the offense on the field, avoided turnovers and sacks, and picked up the Bengals’ second win of the year. Ryan Tannehill had an uncharacteristic red zone turnover and even a 100-yard day from Derrick Henry wasn’t enough for the Titans to pull off the road win. The defensive performance from the Titans was very lackluster and should be a cause for concern after a rough season thus far.

 

Tennessee Titans

 

Quarterback

 

Ryan Tannehill: 18/30, 233 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 1 sack | 2 carries, 20 yards

 

It was a windy afternoon in Cincinnati, which may have impacted the Titans’ deep game, limiting Ryan Tannehill‘s production even on a day where he played primarily from behind. Early on he scrambled multiple times, picking up chunks of yardage, but Tannehill went away from that after the first few drives. He locked on to Corey Davis for the most part and made some nice throws when targeting him. Tannehill had a rare red zone interception early on trying to get the ball on the move to A.J. Brown in the end zone, as there were two Bengals defenders in position for the interception. Both of Tannehill’s touchdowns came in the fourth quarter, so he salvaged a decent day in the end. But ultimately the Titans’ defense was unable to get off the field, which really limited the Titans offensive production overall.

  

Running Backs

 

Derrick Henry: 18 carries, 112 yards, 1 TD | 1 target

Jeremy McNichols: 4 carries, 49 yards | 1 target

D’Onta Foreman: 5 carries, 37 yards

 

Derrick Henry led the way on the ground and looked as physical as ever, with a couple of chunk runs that were nearly broken for bigger gains. If the Titans defense had been able to get some stops, this would have been an even bigger game from Henry. It was still an impressive day considering that Henry was playing from behind all game. He was not a factor in the passing game, however, and was only targeted once.

 

 

D’Onta Foreman surprisingly surfaced in this one, logging his first regular-season action since the end of the 2018 season. Foreman looked good on his touches and was in as early as the first quarter spelling Henry. Foreman had a promising start to his career in Houston before he was derailed by injuries, and he looks more like an early-down back than the other Titans running backs, so in the event of an injury to Henry, Foreman could be the handcuff. Jeremy McNichols looked good on his touches but is more of a change of pace and third-down option.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Corey Davis: 10 targets, 8 receptions, 128 yards, 1 TD

A.J. Brown: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 24 yards, 1 TD

Jonnu Smith: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards

Anthony Firkser: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 36 yards

Adam Humphries: 2 targets

 

The Bengals did a good job containing A.J. Brown in this one, and he was held without a catch until the second half. His first catch was on a screen pass that was stuffed behind the line, and Tannehill tried to go right back to him the next play on third and long but the pass was incomplete. Later, a play-action pass that had potential went through Brown’s hands, and Tannehill was sacked on the next play to end the drive. Luckily for Brown’s managers, he turned a short fourth-quarter red zone pass into a touchdown thanks to some shoddy tackling from the Bengals, breaking two tackles before reaching the end zone.

With the Bengals focused on Brown, Corey Davis had a big day, catching eight passes and scoring a late touchdown. Davis and Tannehill seemed to be on the same page all day, and Davis is another big physical receiver for the Titans to get the ball too. Davis was fortunate to get his late touchdown after the Bengals nearly had an interception on the previous two plays, but Davis made a nice play on the score as he got his feet down on the sideline. This is now two consecutive 10-target games for Davis, and if the running backs and tight ends continue to take a back seat in the passing game, he will continue to see nice volume in this offense.

This is now three consecutive disappointing games from Jonnu Smith, as he just hasn’t been a focal point of the offense. Smith had a catch early on in each half on play-action passes that seemed clearly designed for him, but otherwise, Tannehill simply didn’t look his way. The receivers have taken priority over Smith, and this was set up to be a prime matchup against a Bengals team that struggles against tight ends. Smith will be a TE2 until he regains his usage in the offense, as Tannehill just doesn’t seem to look his way when going through his progressions. Anthony Firkser was a non-factor until late, and his catches came consecutively while in desperation mode.

Adam Humphries took a scary hit and was down on the field for a long time before getting to his feet and walking off. He will likely be in the concussion protocol but was not a big part of the offense while he was out there, failing to convert on a third and seven in the first half.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

 

Quarterback

 

Joe Burrow: 26/37, 249 yards, 2 TDs | 3 carries, 9 yards

 

On a windy day and with an offensive line missing four of its starters from last week, Joe Burrow put together an impressive professional performance for his second career win. Completing 70% of his passes and avoiding a single sack or turnover, Burrow continues to look great and grow more comfortable by the week. Burrow looks especially confident when escaping the pocket and rolling to the right, and had an impressive throw down the sideline that Tee Higgins went up and caught on an early 3rd and five. Burrow took a deep shot to Higgins later that drew defensive pass interference, setting up a 1-yard touchdown for Samaje Perine.

Burrow had a crazy second-half run where he broke three or four tackles and turned a clear sack into a 5 yard gain, and continues to get used on quarterback sneaks on short-yardage situations. Burrow had an impressive fourth-down conversion downfield to Higgins where the line gave him nice protection, and also showed awesome chemistry with Tyler Boyd on a play where he bought time and threw back away from the way Boyd was running. Burrow did avoid a critical interception late on a questionable defensive pass interference call, but overall was impressive yet again, and is a weekly start as long as his opponents don’t possess a ferocious pass rush like the Ravens or Steelers.

 

 

Running Backs

 

Giovani Bernard: 15 carries, 62 yards, 1 TD | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 16 yards, 1 TD

Samaje Perine: 10 carries, 32 yards, 1 TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards

 

Despite a decimated offensive line, the Bengals surprisingly ran the ball well from the start in this one, and Giovani Bernard had himself quite the fantasy day as a result. Despite a touchdown vulture from Samaje Perine, Bernard still managed two touchdowns of his own, including a late receiving touchdown on a play that appeared to be designed to go to him. While Bernard isn’t the runner that Joe Mixon is, he did look good on the ground in this one, and his versatility makes him a weekly starter for as long as Mixon misses time. Perine looked solid himself, and while he is the clear backup to Bernard, he still logged a significant number of snaps.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Tee Higgins: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 78 yards | 2 carries, 6 yards

Tyler Boyd: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 67 yards, 1 TD | 2 carries, 9 yards

Auden Tate: 7 targets, 7 receptions, 65 yards

A.J. Green: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 19 yards

Drew Sample: 1 target

 

Burrow pretty clearly has the best rapport with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd at this point, and without a tight end taking targets they seem destined to be heavily featured each and every week. The Bengals consistently found ways to get the ball to Higgins, as he received a screen pass and two end-around rushes. Higgins drew a downfield pass interference in the end zone that set up a one-yard touchdown, and was continually on the same page as Burrow on scrambles and as he bought time in the pocket. Higgins is a locked-in fantasy starter until further notice.

Boyd continually made tough catches over the middle of the field and scored a second-half touchdown by taking advantage of Jonathan Joseph in coverage. At one point late in the fourth quarter, the Bengals were 8 of 11 when targeting Joseph in coverage. Boyd had an incredible catch late in the game as Burrow threw behind him and it was amazing that Boyd even saw the ball, let alone caught it. Boyd is battling Higgins each week as the primary target, and there are enough looks to go around for them both to be weekly fantasy starters.

A.J. Green had a tough game in this one, though he did draw the short end of the coverage. Green continually saw Malcolm Butler in coverage, and this isn’t the first time that a team has put their top corner on Green despite his struggles. It will be interesting to see if that changes going forward. Regardless, Green did have some mistakes, as he had a first-half drop to set up a 3rd and 9 that the Bengals ultimately converted, and committed a false start later in the game. While Green may have better weeks ahead, he is certainly watching Boyd and Higgins thrive with Burrow, and even saw Auden Tate make an impression in this one. Tate isn’t a big separation receiver, but excels at contested catches, and made a couple of extremely impressive catches in this one. While Tate doesn’t have massive upside, he would be a very interesting waiver wire add if Green were to be traded or suffer an injury.

 

— Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter, truebest on Reddit)

One response to “What We Saw: Week 8”

  1. Really good website, thank you very much for showing us

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