The New York Jets continue to prepare for the regular season as their Week 1 opponent will be the Cincinnati Bengals. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect.
In what seems like an annual occurrence these days, the New York Jets will open at home. Unlike the last two years, they will play a tough opponent in the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have made the NFL Playoffs the last four years, and unfortunately for their franchise, they haven’t won a single playoff game.
The Bengals worst playoff loss, arguably came last year at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cornerback Adam Jones committed crucial penalties that pretty much handed them the game. Still, the Bengals possess one of the most talented rosters in the league, despite their playoff mishaps.
The Jets should have their hands full in this one, regardless of who is playing quarterback. The one bright spot for the Jets is that hard-hitting linebacker Burfict will be serving a suspension. Also, it is possible that tight end Tyler Eifert isn’t ready, after undergoing ankle surgery.
The Jets first order of business is to take away wide receiver A.J. Green. After seeing how cornerback Darrelle Revis fared against DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins, two of the game’s elite receivers, Bowles may opt to double Green, as opposed to having Revis trail him the entire game.
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Green is not only a big bodied red zone threat, he is also one of the game’s best deep ball receivers.
The Jets would be wise to double Green, especially in the red zone, as the Bengals don’t have any other wide receiver that warrants special attention.
The likelihood of that happening increases if Eifert is unable to go Week 1.
The Jets should be well equipped to do so, with their trio of young stud defensive linemen in Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams. The Jets depth in the front seven will allow them to put players in spots they will excel in.
For example, the Jets will use linebacker Erin Henderson in their base defense, along with Steve McLendon and rookie edge-setter Jordan Jenkins because their best asset is their ability to play the run.
Jenkins, will primarily be tasked with replacing linebacker Calvin Pace‘s role as doing “the dirty work” so to speak for the Jets’ defense. What Pace did so well was engage his man attempting to block him, and not give up leverage.
For example, if the offense is running power and the offensive tackle is supposed to block Pace to allow his back to get outside, Pace would hold his ground; forcing the running back to be swallowed up or to kick it inside, where he would also be dropped for a loss.
If Eifert does play, look for safety Calvin Pryor to have him in man-to-man, unless Darron Lee proves he is ready to cover tight ends of Eifert’s skill-set during the summer.
Dec 19, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Jets strong safety Calvin Pryor (25) rushes Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kellen Moore (17) during the first half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
On offense, assuming quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick comes back, the Jets should be able to do enough to win the game. Without Burfict, the Bengals’ defense isn’t nearly as intimidating with him.
The Bengals lost long-time starters this offseason in cornerback Leon Hall and safety Reggie Nelson. They will be counting on 2014 first round pick cornerback Darqueze Dennard and fourth year safety Shawn Williams to assume starting roles in the secondary.
The Jets will have a clear mismatch with Brandon Marshall on Dennard or former first round pick cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. Adam Jones had quite a season at age thirty-two, and will matchup mostly on wide receiver Eric Decker in the slot.
The Jets will find it hard to run the ball against the Bengals front four, which includes Pro Bowlers defensive end Carlos Dunlap and defensive tackle Geno Atkins. This game could come down to the Bengals’ linebackers vs. the Jets’ backs.
Overall, the Jets have a better shot to win this than most pundits will give them. The Bengals’ inexperienced secondary and lack of speed at linebacker, will allow Marshall and Powell/Forte to carry the offense. Forte and Powell will be essential on third down to neutralize the pass rush of the Bengals. An immensely improved special teams should help with field position. As long as the defense does its job, the Jets could be heading up to Buffalo 1-0.