CLEVELAND _ The Bengals came into the week with the NFL's second best time of possession at 32:25, trailing only the unbeaten Eagles, and padded their average in their last game against the Falcons when they kept the ball for the final 8:44.
Even though they were up, 35-17, head coach Zac Taylor still had some managing to do. He knew the Falcons had erased double-digit leads earlier in the season, but he also wanted to keep his defense off the field, too.
And then, there's the aggressiveness of his quarterback. Taylor calls Joe Burrow's killer instinct his "stinger." He elaborated last week.
"There's a lot of times as a coach where you want to be conservative and manage the game the right way, but at the same time, we've got a quarterback that's got that. Killer instinct at all times," Taylor said. "I'm always cautious of if I give them a play call and there's a window of opportunity to be aggressive, I don't ever want him to be thinking, 'Well, does Zac want me to be aggressive here or not?' I've got a handle that with the information I give him to where he can just be Joe Burrow and put the stinger in people when the moment calls for it."
And against the Falcons, there were 8:44 of those moments.
"Last week was about putting the nail in the coffin. That's a team that always comes back from 28-3, 21-0," Taylor said. "We made a big point of emphasis, put the nail in the coffin so he was he was doing everything he could on that final drive to put the nail in the coffin and score a touchdown. It was on me to manage that not happening and it's running out the clock so the defense doesn't have to go back on the field.
"In a situation where you're up enough scores, it's more, let's just eliminate the reps for our defense. But, I promise, Burrow was mic'd up, (but) it wasn't all out there. But he was foot on the gas, let's finish in the end zone and I had to manage it the other way."
BIG APPOINTMENT: The numbers and Burrow's quotes say the Bengals offensive line is progressing. Heading into the week Pro Football Focus had it rated 14th in pass blocking efficiency and it's a huge one Monday night for the Bengals tackles going against one of the top sackers of the decade in Browns edge Myles Garrett.
As opposed to years past when he stayed on the left tackle, Garrett is switching sides and both left tackle Jonah Williams and right tackle La'el Collins expect to get him. Williams, who has started against Garrett three times and given up a sack, has played well the last two games despite dislocating his kneecap two weeks ago in New Orleans.
"Just getting treatment and it feels good," Williams said. "With (Garrett), you have to make sure he doesn't take over the game. He can do that if he gets going. He's strong enough to bull you and athletic enough to do everything else."
"They seem to play differently depending on who they're playing and other things," Williams said of the Browns alignment. "We have to be ready for both guys. We're winning games. That always helps (the O-line). It's hard playing from behind in this league."
The progress of rookie left guard Cordell Volson, the fourth-rounder, is getting solid reviews from offensive line coach Frank Pollack.
"I don't care where a guy is drafted. No. 1 or 213th whatever the last pick is now," said Pollack, the 165th pick in the 1990 draft. "It takes time. He's improving in all areas. His awareness. How he's relating in his sets to the guys around him. The center and his tackle. Understanding our scheme a little bit better. His technique is getting better. He's getting fast, quicker with his hands. Being a little more rooted. Not top-heavy, keeping a good posture and demeanor in pass pro, understanding his run fits. Across the board, he gets better every day, every week. And when he sees something new, he doesn't have a repeat mistake."
ELEVATIONS: One practice squad elevation had some NFL snaps. With both Ja'Marr Chase (hip) and Stanley Morgan (hamstring) inactive, wide receiver Trenton Irwin was active for the first time this season and dressing for his 10th NFL game with three NFL catches and three punt returns.
But the other one, defensive tackle Domenique Davis, was making his NFL debut. Davis, a first-year player from North Carolina-Pembroke, got the spot 2021 fourth-rounder Tyler Shelvin has filled the last two games and would become the second Pembroke player to play in an NFL game, according to pro football reference. A foot injury took him out of action for much of the past two seasons.
INACTIVES: Second-rounder Cam Taylor-Britt looked poised to make his first NFL start in his second game with cornerback Eli Apple (hamstring) joining Chase and Morgan on the inactive list. Also out with injury was nose tackle Josh Tupou (calf), along with backups running back Trayveon Williams, tackle D'Ante Smith and guard Jackson Carman. Linebacker Jeremiah-Owusu-Koramoah joined cornerback Denzel Ward, guard Wyatt Teller and tight end David Njoku as key starters inactive for the Browns.