Our 2019 New York Jets opponent preview series churns forward. Let’s take a dive into the offseason of the Bengals.
The New York Jets will be hoping to head into December of this season with playoff hopes. As they kick off that last month of the regular season, their first opponent of the final five-game stretch will be the Cincinnati Bengals.
Oct. 27, 2013 (Week 8): Jets 9 @ Bengals 49
The Jets and Bengals haven’t finished in the same place of their respective divisions in a while, so their recent matchups have remained restricted to the triennial cycle that intra-conference teams go by.
When the Jets made their most recent trip to Cincinnati back in 2013, they were in the midst of a historic run – making the kind of history that wasn’t great nor terrible.
The Jets had alternated wins and losses through the first seven weeks of the season. They entered Cincinnati at 4-3, coming off of an overtime win over the Patriots. The Bengals came in at 5-2.
Unfortunately, the Jets continued their uncanny run of alternation. The Bengals walloped the Jets, defeating them by 40 points. It remains the tenth-largest margin of defeat in Jets franchise history.
Sep. 11, 2016 (Week 1): Bengals 23 @ Jets 22
Coming off of a 10-6 season that nearly resulted in a playoff berth, the Jets entered 2016 with high expectations. The Bengals, on the other hand, were looking to build off of a franchise record-tying 12 wins.
Early on, the raucous MetLife Stadium crowd was going berserk as the Jets made big play after big play on both sides of the ball. Players that generated hype were delivering, and the team that was often touted as “loaded” was living up to that billing in the early portion of the game.
On Cincinnati’s game-opening drive, the Jets forced a three-and-out. Steve McLendon stuffed a run, Darrelle Revis held A.J. Green short of the sticks, and the breakout-hopeful sophomore Lorenzo Mauldin notched a sack.
The Jets took over and immediately marched down for a 78-yard touchdown drive. Brandon Marshall picked up a first down catch, Matt Forte notched both rushing and receiving first downs, and Quincy Enunwa finished off the drive with a touchdown reception from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Then, things went dormant. The Jets stalled in the red zone numerous times while allowing the Bengals to come up with big plays through the air.
New York took a two-point lead with under four minutes to go in the fourth quarter on a Nick Folk field goal. However, the defense couldn’t close the deal, allowing Andy Dalton to march the Bengals down for a game-winning Mike Nugent field goal with 54 seconds to play.
Despite both looking talented and competitive in their opening game, neither team would live up to the expectations they received in the preseason. The Jets finished 5-11, while Cincinnati wound up at 6-9-1.
John Miller, Guard (FA: Buffalo) — John Miller was a key cog on the Buffalo Bills offensive line since being selected in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He started 47 games at right guard for Buffalo over the past four seasons, including 15 last year. He was graded as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 24 guard last season. Cincinnati is hoping that Miller can help turn around one of the most fledgling offensive line units in the NFL.
B.W. Webb, Cornerback (FA: NY Giants) — Cincinnati added some depth to its solid cornerback room with B.W. Webb. While he struggled with penalties last season (10), Webb is a very sound tackler, missing only eight tackles over his 2,038 career defensive snaps.
Tyler Kroft, Tight End (FA: Buffalo) — Kroft was a reserve tight end over four years in Cincinnati. He had seven touchdown receptions in 2017, but outside of that one year, Kroft had only 25 receptions for 257 yards and one touchdown over his other three seasons. The Bills gave Kroft a three-year, $18.8 million deal despite his limited production. Kroft only played five games in 2018, catching four passes for 36 yards.
Vontaze Burfict, Linebacker (FA: Oakland) — Burfict’s tumultuous tenure in Cincinnati finally came to an end as he decided to head west and join the Raiders. He racked up 610 tackles and 28 passes defended over seven seasons in Southwestern Ohio.
IMPORTANT NUMBERS FOR THE BENGALS
Need to maintain: 8th in rushing yards-per-attempt
While Cincinnati’s offensive line struggles dragged down the overall efficiency of their run game (the Bengals ranked 14th in rushing DVOA), the big play ability of Joe Mixon helped the team field a respectable run game. Mixon ranked fourth in the league in rushing with 1,168 yards, averaging a strong 4.9 yards-per-carry. His total of 11 carries for 20-plus yards was tied for the second-most in the league.
Need to improve: 31st in points allowed-per-drive
Last season, Cincinnati struggled mightily in most defensive categories. They ranked 28th in overall defensive DVOA, including 25th against the pass and 26th against the run. All told, they ended up allowing the second-most points-per-drive in the league, ahead of only the Oakland Raiders.
You name it, Cincinnati’s defense needs to get better at it. In 2018, the Bengals ranked 21st in takeaways (18), 25th in red zone defense (64% touchdown rate), 25th in yards-per-rush allowed (4.7), 29th in net yards-per-pass play allowed (7.1), and 32nd in third down defense (49%).
The Bengals are perhaps the most slept-on team in the NFL. The leaguewide buzz around them has been at a minimum. Most are expecting them to flop and compete for the No. 1 pick, but Cincinnati still has some talent. They have the potential to surprise some people in the crowded AFC North. If they’re going to do it, a rebound on defense is going to be vital.