Bengals vs Jets Review: Positional Grades

Robert Sabo – New York Post

Bengals vs Jets was never supposed to be a ‘trap game’, but it defiantly was. A trap game is typically defined as a game where a team that has been flying high gets surprised by a supposedly inferior team. Generally they happen on the road and when a team has an important game coming up the following week. Quite a few have been calling the Bengals’ 34-31 loss to the New York Jets a trap game. It’s hard to argue with them after the way they played.

The Bengals’ defense is going to get a ton of crap this week. Deservedly so, because the 34 points they allowed to Mike White’s Jets was the most they’ve allowed all season. This comes a week after pummeling Lamar Jackson’s Ravens. But, despite the offense putting up over 30 point this week, I think they deserve just as much blame for this complete TEAM loss.

Cincinnati Bengals Position Grades: Offense

Quarterback grade: B-

As bad as the Bengals looked this week, I thought Joe Burrow looked mostly fine. There were a few inaccurate passes and one killer interception. That said, how can you plan for the defender tipping the ball to himself at the line of scrimmage? I’m taking that pick into consideration, but I’m also not going to kill him for it either.

Other than that, Burrow had a mostly respectable day completing 21 of his 33 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns.

Despite an awful first quarter from everyone, Burrow led the Bengals to 24 unanswered points in the second and third quarters. I don’t think Joe Burrow fell victim to the trap game. The Bengals have had slow starts all season, but he got things going as he typically does.

Running Back grade: C-

The running backs didn’t get much help from the offensive line this week. But, Joe Mixon was personally responsible for two of the Bengals’ four touchdowns on the day. Samaje Perine occasionally showed up to put up key first down plays that made up for some ugliness on the prior plays. 

But, at the end of the day, the running backs only combined for 41 yards rushing and 74 yards receiving. Joe Mixon was able to get loose for a few decent gains throughout the day. But, on the whole, he looked like he couldn’t get anything going consistently behind that OL. 

Wide Receiver grade: C-

If there is one offensive unit you could point the finger at in this loss, it’s the wide receivers. To their credit, Tyler Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase both made up for otherwise awful days by pulling in a pair of touchdown grabs that helped the Bengals pull away at important times in the game.

But, I’m not here to talk about the nice highlights the Bengals’ social media team will surely try to push. I’m here to remind you that Ja’Marr Chase returned to his preseason form this week with THREE killer drops. One of those drops was in the endzone. He had the ball in both hands and just dropped it. That dropped touchdown pass turned out to be the difference in the game.

Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins didn’t have perfect games either. But, to be fair, all three receivers had their share of good plays. For Tyler Boyd, it was this really fun looking 46-yard pass to Joe Mixon.

Tight End grade: C-

C.J. Uzomah had a few good plays this week. He was a big part of the reason the Bengals drove down the field early in the fourth quarter to go up 31-20. But, he was almost non-existent the rest of the game. Drew Sample was COMPLETELY non-existent. Again. The Bengals’ offense isn’t really designed to feature tight ends much. But, when the Bengals are struggling to get much accomplished in the intermediate area of the field, the position sticks out like a sore thumb.

Offensive line grade: D+

I was originally going to give this unit an ‘F’. Joe Burrow was under pressure regularly and constantly had to scramble around to get much of anything accomplished. Then again, Burrow was sacked three times. The run blocking was absolutely horrendous. I’ll give them credit for generally playing a pretty clean game. The only two penalties on the day ended up not making much of a difference. But, this offensive line got absolutely worked all day by an underrated Jets defensive line. This unit did not look prepared and seemed to fully fall victim to the trap game.

Cincinnati Bengals Position Grades: Defense

Defensive line grade: C

The Bengals’ defensive line came to play this week, although you would have liked to see more consistency. Mike White was sacked twice, which was nice to see. But, Michael Carter averaged 5.1 yards per carry and looked basically unstoppable at the line of scrimmage. 

That was a big reason the Bengals seemingly couldn’t get off the field on defense. You wonder what the game would have looked like if the Jets had attempted more than 22 carries on the day. The Jets insisted on passing a ton this week, which gave the defensive line ample opportunity to flex their ability to change the game. But, they couldn’t get it done when it mattered. That fact alone will stain what looked to be shaping up like a pretty solid day for this unit.

Linebacker grade: C

Credit to Germaine Pratt for pulling down one of those early interceptions that should have swung the game in the Bengals’ favor. Luckily, the Bengals’ offense actually capitalized on that interception. But, throughout much of the day, the Bengals linebackers seemed to be completely lost in coverage. It was a trap game for them too as Mike White shredded the middle of the field. At one point, it seemed like every single pass was a 11-12 yard gain. In fact, White averaged nine yards per pass attempt and seven Jets receivers averaged at least 10 yards per catch.

Cornerback grade: F

The Bengals allegedly have a really good cornerback corps. We certainly didn’t see that today. If any unit fell victim to the trap game, it was this one. They allowed Mike White 405 passing yards and two touchdowns. Were it not for some early heads up play by the defensive line to tip a couple of passes for interceptions, his passer rating would have been through the roof.

Oh, and that defensive pass interference from Eli Apple in the first quarter? It set the Jets up for an early 7-point lead. He gave up a few big receptions to opposing receivers through the rest of the night and came out looking like a liability again. I’ve been very complimentary of him in recent weeks for starting to get things turned around. But, not this week.

Safety grade: A-

Jessie Bates finally notched his first interception of the season. He’s had three every year he’s been in the league, so it’s nice to finally see him get one this year. It would have been nice if the Bengals didn’t completely waste the gift by losing 13 yards on the ensuing four downs. 

It could have turned into seven points, but Ja’Marr Chase dropped the touchdown. Even then, it could have turned into three points, but Zac elected to go for it even though the Bengals’ offense had done nothing but go backwards on the drive. The Bengals’ complete inability to get anything done on offense on that drive was one of the many differences in this game.

But, Jessie should still get credit for coming away with a pick that should have swung the momentum of a truly ugly first quarter. He wasn’t the best in coverage overall this week, but he did enough to help this team win.

Vonn Bell did too, ripping the ball out of Jamison Crowder’s hands in the second quarter.

In fact, Bell was involved in both of the plays on that drive, stopping Elijah Moore for 2 yards on the other one. The Bengals’ offense managed to get a field goal out of the turnover.

If any unit deserved to win this game, it was the safeties. Unfortunately, the rest of the team let them down.

Special teams grades: B+

There was some questionable kick coverage this week. As a result, the Jets generally had better field position than they probably should have had. But, Kevin Huber and Evan McPherson were both machines this week. Huber put three of his punts inside the 20 this week and didn’t have a single touchback. McPherson wasn’t tested much with four extra points and a 21-yard field goal. But, he converted them all.

Coaching grade: C-

There was plenty to like and plenty to hate about the way the Bengals’ coaching staff approached this game. Perhaps the biggest criticism is how completely unprepared the defense looked for the Jets. We knew, going into this game, that the Jets’ biggest offensive weakness was their abysmal run game. Still, Lou Anarumo couldn’t cook anything up to hold the Jets to any kind of respectable yardage total. They averaged 3.6 yards per carry across the board, which is enough to simply waltz down the field if you run the ball on every play.

Also, I’d like to inquire exactly what Zac Taylor was thinking by going for it on fourth down after Jessie Bates’ interception. The Bengals’ offense did nothing but go backwards on that set of downs, so why would you think they’re suddenly going to do anything different on that drive?

Sure, Ja’Marr Chase dropped a touchdown catch on that drive. But, by not taking the field goal on fourth down, the Bengals left crucial points on the board that would have given them a chance at the end of the game.

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