I can’t say that I wasn’t a little proud watching Bengals rookie runner Giovani Bernard on Monday night. Those that follow me know that I’ve been thirsty for a real running back for the past few seasons and Bernard was who I pegged after the Bengals’ last playoff loss to the Texans.
Gio Bernard captured my scouting heart the first time I watched him and filled out his grading scale and scouting report. Here’s what I wrote:
“Gio Bernard is blessed with good speed, agility and acceleration to go with an ideal power/balance ratio. His best attribute is everything that makes up the Pre-LOS (line of scrimmage) ability. Think of Arian Foster and his ability to see the hole being created on the backside, yet he strings along the linebacker, presses the hole then violently cuts back into the open field. He’s the best running of this class when it comes to that. He will not be dependent on a good offensive line.”
On Monday night, we got to see what makes Bernard special.
* First down and Cincinnati comes out in their 12-Personnel (1-RB, 2-TE).
* Eifert is at H-Back to Bernard’s left.
* This is an inside Zone run.
* As Gio gets the ball, he looks for his running lanes.
* YELLOW – Lawrence Timmons is sliding into that hole and is ready to fill it.
* BLUE – If Gio can string Timmons far enough and keep him in the Yellow, Bernard should be able to cut it up into this lane.
* PURPLE – With the Steelers’ OLB coming from the outside, Gio must maintain his inside run to get the LB to come inside and get picked up by Eifert.
* Gio presses the Yellow hole and forces Timmons to commit to it; Bernard cuts hard to his left.
* He must now choose between Blue or Purple.
* The Pittsburgh DE and OLB crash inside and Bernard turns on the jets towards the outside.
* This is all before he even passes the Line of scrimmage.
* And Bernard finishes by lowering his head and shoulder into the gap between the FS and CB.
But some still had questions about Giovani Bernard’s pass protection and toughness.
* Ryan Clark (Yellow) vs Gio Bernard (Orange)
* Gio takes the handoff and makes his way to our left.
* Clark crashes the LOS and looks like he expects Bernard to take the outside (purple) lane.
* Gio dips behind Andre Smith for a split second and Clark has to slow down.
* Bernard cuts hard back inside behind the blocks of Zeitler and Cook.
* Again Bernard is eclipsed by an offensive lineman. He has Clark in Oh Crap mode as he now much track around Kyle Cook and catch Gio from behind.
* Giovani Bernard gets low and pushes the pile into the end zone.
* Ryan Clark (yellow) is left on his butt looking for Bernard.
* Pittsburgh will blitz both ILBs in an effort to confuse the rookie RB.
* The first blitzing ILB is picked up by the big guys up front and that leaves Bernard in a one on one situation with a LB that has 50 lbs. on him.
* In that scenario, you cut that LB and send him flipping. Gio does just that.
* Cincinnati is going to block left and allow Lamar Woodley to rush free from the outside.
* As Woodley shortens his arc to the QB, Bernard must come IN FRONT of Dalton, and then get back outside in time to slow down the Steelers best rusher.
* Bernard aims for Woodley’s hip/thigh area and clears him for just long enough for Dalton to unload a deep ball.
* Gio flares out into the right flats and Gresham hooks up in a soft spot against zone coverage.
* Bernard is a receiving weapon for Dalton and has the attention of both Pittsburgh defenders in the area.
* That’s good for Cincy as Gresham hauls in the pass and rumbles down field for a big gain.