You would have thought a pass-rushing specialist like Cincinnati Bengals linebacker James Harrison would have been big in the teams’ win over the Green Bay Packers, but that wasn’t the case, and now the team has to be wondering if the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year ever make an impact for them.
It’s not like they couldn’t have used Harrison, who’s been among the league’s most-feared pass-rushers over the course of his career, as Dick LeBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers used him in a variety of ways in order to maintain one of the NFL’s best pass-rushing defenses while Harrison was there.
With Robert Geathers out for the year, there were certainly more snaps available at DE, and with an already thin LB corps, surely Harrison was in-line for significant playing-time on Sunday, but instead, the Bengals defense saw the majority of snaps go to three defensive ends and three linebackers.
Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer explained it best as to why Harrison hasn’t seen many snaps:
Of the 139 plays run by the Steelers and Packers, all but 11 have been with three wide receivers. In Week 1 at Chicago, the Bears ran three wide on only 14 of 59 snaps.
The Bengals have used a 4-3 base alignment on only 11 plays the last two weeks, Harrison has been in on all of them, which has also been double checked by our friends at Pro Football Focus. Over the first three weeks of the season, the Bengals have been in base on 55 plays and Harrison has been in on 48.
Of the 141 snaps the Bengals have been in nickel, Harrison has been in for only 10. Harrison wasn’t expected to see much time in nickel when he was signed in April and that has been the case so far. Plus, the SAM was in for only 33 percent of the snaps last season.