Cincinnati Bengals: geno smith

CINCINNATI -- Who among us believed that halfway through the regular season, the Cincinnati Bengals would be 6-2, in the middle of a four-game winning streak, would have a quarterback in the top-4 in passing yardage, a top-10 defense and would be led in touchdowns by a receiver other than A.J. Green?

If you knew all of that would happen, specifically the note about receiving touchdowns, then I need you to go purchase me a few lottery tickets ...

In all seriousness, now eight games into the regular season, the Bengals, led by the efficient Andy Dalton, a suffocating defense and Marvin Jones' newly found flair for scoring, are looking like one of the NFL's best teams. Against the New York Jets in Sunday's 49-9 win, Dalton and Jones posted video game-like numbers by setting career highs and a franchise record.

Dalton's five touchdowns and Jones' four weren't the only numbers of note in the ballgame, though. Here are a few more that help explain how the Bengals were able to cruise to their most lopsided win in five seasons:

98.9: Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's QBR. It's the highest quarterback rating of his career, and comes just one week after he posted a 92.8 QBR. Entering this weekend, it had been the second-best of his career.

82: Yards Bengals cornerbacks Chris Crocker and Adam Jones had on a pair of interceptions they returned for touchdowns.

40: Percentage of third downs the Jets converted, going 6-for-15. The Bengals were 6-for-11 on third down.

83: Percentage of scores the Bengals converted while in red zone territory. They were 5-for-6 inside the Jets' 20. The Bengals converted all four of their trips inside goal-line territory.

3.7: Yards per play for the Jets' offense.

7.2: Yards per play for the Bengals' offense.

10.4: Yards gained per pass play for the Bengals' passing offense.

125.7: Dalton's passer rating.

4: Sacks the Bengals had on the Jets. Geno Smith was brought down three times and Matt Simms was stopped behind the line of scrimmage once.

38.3: Yards per reception for Bengals receiver A.J. Green. He finished with three catches for 115 yards.

45: Yards on one Marvin Jones reception. It was the longest play of his two-year career.

71: Yards on one kick return by Bengals specialist Brandon Tate.

11: Tackles for Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

7: Tackles for Bengals cornerback Adam Jones, who finished with Cincinnati's second-highest tackle total.

6: Tackles for Bengals linebacker James Harrison. It was his highest tackle output of the season.

71: Average number of yards the Bengals had to travel at the start of their drives. They began, on average, at their own 29.

58: The most points the Bengals had scored in a game before Sunday was Nov. 28, 2004, when they put up 58 against the Cleveland Browns.

24: Number of years since the Bengals last had a 40-point-plus margin of victory. The last time they had a win of that magnitude, they beat the Houston Oilers 61-7 in 1989.

1984: The year when the Bengals last had two interceptions returned for touchdowns in a single game.

3: Number of players in Bengals history who have had four touchdowns of any kind in a game. Larry Kinnebrew (1984) and Corey Dillon (1997) had four touchdowns before Marvin Jones' four-receiving touchdown day Sunday.

3: Games Geno Smith has had where he has thrown no touchdowns and multiple interceptions.

100: Percentage of passes Dalton completed while targeting Marvin Jones. He threw his direction eight times.

50: Percentage of passes Dalton completed while targeting the rest of his receivers. He was 11-for-22 throwing to them.

15.3: Yards per passing attempt Dalton had on his eight passes to Jones.

9.2: Yards per passing attempt Dalton had on his other 22 passes to his other receivers.

88: Percentage of first downs the Bengals converted while throwing to Marvin Jones.

41: Percentage of first downs the Bengals converted while throwing to the rest of their receivers.

Information from ESPN's Stats & Info was used in this report. Follow on Twitter @ESPNStatsInfo.

Jets vs. Bengals: Numbers Watch

October, 26, 2013
10/26/13
8:00
AM ET
CINCINNATI -- Among the most compelling numbers from the all-time Cincinnati Bengals-New York Jets series is one; as in the number of times Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has beaten the Jets in his 11 years as a head coach.

For whatever reason, the Jets have been a bugaboo for Lewis' teams. Regular season, postseason, it doesn't matter. The Jets have found a way to come out on top every time.

While that's one number to keep in mind, here are a few others you'll want to take note of Sunday afternoon when the Bengals and Jets square off at Paul Brown Stadium:

5: Combined number of game-winning field goals this season for Cincinnati's Mike Nugent and New York's Nick Folk. Nugent has hit two, one as time expired and one in overtime. Folk has three, two in the final two seconds of regulation, and another in overtime.

27.1: Percentage of NFL games this season decided by a fourth-quarter comeback victory. That figure puts the 2013 season on pace for the second-highest percentage of games with a fourth-quarter comeback win since the 1970 merger. In 1989, 31.3 percent of games were decided in that fashion.

74: Number of NFL games that have been within seven points at some point in the fourth quarter. That's the highest total through seven weeks in NFL history.

3.1: Yards per rush the Jets' defense has allowed. That's the lowest yards-per-rush figure in the NFL. Last year, they ranked 21st in the league, allowing an average 4.3 yards per rushing attempt.

3: Number of teams that have allowed less than 80 yards rushing per game. The Jets, at 77.7 yards, are one of those teams.

4.6: Yards per play the Jets' defense has allowed. That figure ranks third in the league.

1.7: Yards per rush before contact the Jets' defense has allowed. That ranks as the best in the NFL.

17: Number of sacks the Jets have when sending four or fewer pass-rushers on pressures this season. They have 24 sacks total; the third-most in the league and most through seven games under coach Rex Ryan since 2009.

4: Game-winning drives Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith has led. According to Elias, he's the fourth quarterback since the 1970 merger to lead a game-winning drive in each of his first four career wins.

60.9: Smith's QBR in the Jets' four wins.

9.7: Smith's QBR in the Jets' three losses. He has seven interceptions and one touchdown in those games.

14: Turnovers Smith has committed through seven games.

25: Times Smith has been sacked through seven games. No other player in the league has a higher number of turnovers and sacks.

.889: Winning percentage for the Jets in the last nine games between them and the Bengals. New York has won eight of the last nine games against Cincinnati, including a 2009 playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium. In the past two regular-season meetings, the Jets have outscored the Bengals, 63-10.

4: Number of quarterbacks who have thrown for 300 yards and three touchdowns in consecutive games this season. They are: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton has thrown more touchdowns in his last two games than in his first five games of the season.

6.9: Yards per passing attempt in Dalton's first five games.

9.6: Yards per passing attempt in Dalton's past two games.

65.1: Dalton's completion percentage in the first five games.

67.6: Dalton's completion percentage in the past two games.

53.0: Dalton's combined QBR in the first five games.

82.0: Dalton's combined QBR in the past two games.

8: Number of players who have thrown 300 yards and three touchdowns in three straight games in a single season since 2001. If Dalton does it Sunday, he'll be the ninth.

69.2: Dalton's completion percentage on passing plays 15-plus yards downfield in the past two games.

36.1: Dalton's completion percentage on passing plays 15-plus yards downfield in the first five games.

77: Times Dalton has targeted receiver A.J. Green. That's tied for the most times an NFL receiver has been targeted this season.

619: Yards receiving for Green. That ranks third among pass-catchers.

258: Yards receiving for Green in the past two games.

Information from ESPN's Stats and Information was used in this report. Follow on Twitter @ESPNStatsInfo.
CINCINNATI -- Want to know how good New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith has been this season? Just consider the following statistic.

The four game-winning drives he has led so far this season make him just the fourth quarterback since the 1970 league merger to earn his first four career wins via that method.

Sure, the Jets' fourth-ranked defense had something to do with holding firm in some of the late-game scenarios that put Smith in position to lead those drives. And yes, kicker Nick Folk's three field goals at the end of regulation or in overtime ultimately won three of those contests. But the fact remains: the young signal-caller has been pretty good.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
Rich Schultz /Getty Images"Geno's done well," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said of the Jets' rookie quarterback.
The Cincinnati Bengals certainly think so, and they are taking quite seriously his visit to Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.

"Geno's done well," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "They've done a fine job of building their offensive team around him and with what they're doing schematically with involving the dropbacks that they do, the play-action dropbacks, the nakeds [bootlegs], the screens ... and then to the read-option type of thing that he's running, there's a lot of scheme."

From Lewis' out-of-town perch, Smith's work with that scheme has been worthy of recognition.

"He's doing a good job of managing it," Lewis said. "He's played well efficiently and they're winning the football game."

As one would expect, Smith has performed much better in wins than he has in losses this season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he is completing 60.8 percent of his passes and has thrown seven touchdowns in the Jets' four wins. He's also run the ball better in those games, gaining an average 6 yards per carry. In New York's three losses, on the other hand, Smith is completing 55.3 percent of his passes, has thrown seven interceptions versus one touchdown and is running for 3.6 yards per carry.

His average QBR in his wins (60.9) is more than 50 points higher than his average QBR in losses (9.7).

The only apparent problem for Smith so far in his career is one that happens to all young quarterbacks: he lacks consistency.

"For a quarterback, there's only a few guys considered the greatest guys to play the game, and it's because they were able to string these good games back-to-back-to-back," said the Bengals' own consistency-seeking passer, Andy Dalton. "That's what everybody is striving for. It's hard to do, but you've got to be able to get your team going and prepare each week and go out and play your best and hopefully it shows in the game."

After turning in a rather poor outing against Cleveland four weeks ago, Dalton has hit a stride of sorts, helping the Bengals to three straight wins. Across the last two weeks, he has thrown for more than 700 yards and six touchdowns. It appears he may have once and for all found that high level of play that can be so elusive for quarterbacks.

Smith believes that finding consistency is the natural next step in his evolution.

"I've challenged myself to be consistent, and that's also in my decision-making; being a consistent decision-maker on every single down," Smith said in a conference call with Cincinnati media this week.

Aside from Smith's penchant for throwing interceptions in losses, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer sees few flaws in Smith's decision-making so far.

"Obviously he's a young guy that's maturing, but I feel like he's gotten better in the last few weeks," Zimmer said. "He's got an excellent arm. ... He's got some running ability. He's starting to scramble a little more than he was earlier in the year. He's a strong runner and he's got good speed because he's a good runner. So all of those things become issues."

Double Coverage: Jets at Bengals

October, 25, 2013
10/25/13
12:30
PM ET
Green/SmithUSA TODAY SportsA.J. Green, left, and the Bengals hope to stay hot against Geno Smith and the surprising Jets.
Rookie quarterbacks have caused the Cincinnati Bengals problems in recent seasons, as their 7-8 record against them since 2008 attests. On Sunday afternoon in the familiar confines of Paul Brown Stadium, they hope to pull that record even when Geno Smith and the New York Jets come to town.

Just like the Bengals' own young quarterback, Smith has found the winning formula the past five weeks, winning three games in that span. All four of the wins he has engineered this season have become victories because of game-winning drives he has led. While there might be other factors at play that are contributing more to New York's 4-3 record, there isn't much denying that Smith has had some hand in it, too.

As they interrupt a four-cities-in-five-weeks road tour with this home game, the Bengals are looking to extend their winning streak to four. In this edition of Double Coverage, ESPN.com Bengals reporter Coley Harvey and Jets reporter Rich Cimini look at what could contribute to that happening or to Cincinnati losing and dropping to 5-3.

Coley Harvey: So Rich, Sunday’s game will feature two of the three players in the league named Geno. Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins and Jets quarterback Geno Smith have earned rather impressive headlines this season. In Atkins’ case, it was for signing his $55 million contract extension five days before the season opener. Recently, Smith’s headlines have come from the four game-winning drives he’s led. Both are good young players, but something will have to give. How confident are Smith and the Jets that they’ll be able to keep Atkins and the rest of Cincinnati’s defensive line out of their backfield?

Rich Cimini: You just hit on one of the keys to the game, Coley. The Jets have allowed a lot of sacks (25), but I think many of those can be attributed to Smith, who tends to hold the ball too long. That said, the line needs to do a better job, especially the left side. Tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and rookie guard Brian Winters allowed two sacks apiece last week, bringing their totals to four and three, respectively. That's not a good number for Winters, who has started only three games. I don't see how he handles Atkins; he's simply not ready for that kind of challenge this soon. There are some tough matchups across the board for the Jets. The coaches will have to game plan ways for Smith to get the ball out quickly. I see Andy Dalton is coming off a big game. Is the Bengals' offense for real?

Harvey: It’s tough to really answer that question, Rich. One week the Bengals' offense looks for real, the next, it looks like a cheap imitation of its former self. Thankfully for the Bengals, though, the ineptitude they have shown offensively at times this season hasn’t shown up in the past three weeks. You could say Dalton is a big reason why. He is, after all, coming off back-to-back 300-yard passing performances. The more likely reason this offense has started taking off, though, lies in something Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth talks about often: the apparent “matchup problems” the Bengals create. In addition to receiver A.J. Green, the Bengals have quality second- and third-tier receivers in Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, a pair of ball-seeking tight ends in Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert and a balanced rushing attack led by BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the shifty Giovani Bernard. Cincinnati has finally figured out how to use all these weapons, and it's paying off.

The Bengals’ offensive line has been a group of unsung heroes of sorts, too. They had a fairly easy challenge last week preparing for Detroit’s line-first pass rush. Just how complex are the looks the Jets’ multiple defensive fronts give teams this season? Could the Jets' defense be a key to this game?

Cimini: Definitely. The Jets are ranked fourth in total defense, due largely to the line. We're witnessing the emergence of something special. The linemen are all good, and they're all young, starting with Muhammad Wilkerson, who is on his way to his first Pro Bowl. The next-best is rookie Sheldon Richardson, a high-energy player who shows up in the running game and the passing game. Quinton Coples is listed as a rush linebacker, but he's often in a three-point stance. He's coming off his best game of the season. This is what happens when you draft a defensive lineman in each of the past three first rounds. The Jets will control the Bengals' running game, and they will get after Dalton on obvious passing downs, but they're vulnerable to quick, short passes. That's how you neutralize the Jets' big fellas.

The Jets did a good job last week against the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski, but now they face a double threat at tight end with Gresham and Eifert. How are they being utilized?

Harvey: So that’s the way to neutralize the Jets’ front, huh? Bad news for Gang Green: Short, quick passes are the Bengals’ forte. Dalton has thrived throwing them all season. On passes that have traveled 5 yards or less, he has the league’s highest completion percentage at 76.7 percent. On 66 completions from that range, he has thrown for 500 yards. Of those, 316 have come after the catch.

Eifert and Gresham certainly are major contributors to that short-passing game, grabbing balls off flare screens and slants across the middle. Last week, though, Eifert caught his first touchdown pass of the season when he ran a seam route deep into the Lions’ secondary for a 32-yard reception. While they are tight ends and do their share of pass blocking and run blocking, Eifert and Gresham are true threats in the Bengals’ passing game, too.

Going back to Geno Smith for a moment. What has been the trick the past few weeks to him leading these game-winning drives?

Cimini: The trick? I go back to something Rex Ryan said a few weeks ago. I asked him what he learned from his first experience with a rookie quarterback (Mark Sanchez, 2009), and he said, "Make sure you have a great defense." So, yes, Smith has enjoyed some dramatic moments, but they're 4-3 because of the defense. But since you asked about Smith ...

He became the first rookie since the merger in 1970 to register four game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his first seven games. Clearly, his signature drive came against the Falcons, when he drove them to the winning field goal in the final two minutes. In the other three game-winning drives, he attempted a total of five passes, including a 69-yard touchdown strike. Obviously, we're not talking about a lot of passing shows. But he never gets visibly rattled, he always seems in control -- good qualities to have. Do you think Smith could have some success against the Leon Hall-less secondary? The Lions' Matthew Stafford picked them apart for 357 yards.

Harvey: It’s certainly possible. The Bengals are going to be bringing in one of their own young players, second-year cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick to perform some of the responsibilities that had been Hall’s. Kirkpatrick will be playing some in the slot, he’ll be playing some outside. You’ll see recently signed veteran Chris Crocker taking some of Hall’s snaps. Adam Jones will be getting some, as well. And assuming he’s healthy enough to play, Terence Newman will be getting his share of opportunities to lock down the Jets’ receivers. In short, without Hall, it’ll be a cornerback-by-committee setup for the Bengals. It’s worked before, most notably against the Patriots in Week 5, when Hall was out with a hamstring injury. The week before, the Bengals still held the Browns in check defensively, even though they ended up losing that game 17-6.

Cincinnati’s main concern, judging from last week’s Jets-Patriots game, seems to be stopping New York’s running game. A lot of people here this week have been comparing the Jets to the Bills with respect to the potency of their multi-back running game. As someone who will see the Bills twice this season, do you think that’s a fair comparison to make for a defense that’s used to facing truer pass-first offenses?

Cimini: The Jets use a two-man committee, Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory. In that sense, they compare to the Bills. In terms of ability, they're not as potent as the Bills. The Jets don't have a C.J. Spiller-type, meaning a home-run threat. They are the ultimate grind-it-out rushing attack. Their most explosive back, Mike Goodson, blew out his knee two weeks ago, so he's done for the seaosn -- and they will miss his ability to threaten the perimeter. Powell and Ivory are a nice tandem, each capable of a 100-yard rushing day on any given Sunday, but I wouldn't say either one possesses special qualities. Powell is more of a slasher than Ivory, who reminds me of a poor man's Marshawn Lynch. In other words, he runs with some nasty. You won't see them running too often outside the tackles. They also mix in some Wildcat and read-option, maybe five to 10 plays a game. Recently signed Josh Cribbs, no stranger to the AFC North, got a couple of reps last week in the Wildcat. I wouldn't sleep on him if I were the Bengals.

There was a lot of chatter in New York before the draft about the possibility of picking Bernard. What has he brought to the Bengals' offense?

Harvey: Yeah, I don’t think anybody in Cincinnati is going to sleep on Cribbs. They know better than most teams just what he can do. With respect to the Jets’ overall rushing game, it was kind of surprising to hear Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict almost nonchalantly dismiss it this week. He said he didn’t think the Bengals would have much issue stopping it, saying that after “15, 20 plays” the Jets would realize it wouldn’t work. Big, bold talk from the NFL’s leading tackler. Then again, Burfict is the one who was scolded this training camp for bringing Bernard to the ground during a practice drill, so maybe he really can talk that talk.

Bernard really is a special player, Rich. New York had good reason to be excited about possibly drafting him. He’s quick, shifty, has great acceleration and is a home run threat. His two receiving touchdowns have come on short screen passes that ended up becoming longer gains. Both scores were caught at the line of scrimmage and resulted in 20- and 27-yard touchdowns, respectively. He certainly brings a unique dimension to the passing game.

This game features a pair of head coaches who know one another quite well. When Bengals fans, like most people outside New York, think Rex Ryan, they think of his hijinks with the media and his always-second-guessed decisions. Who is Rex the coach, in your opinion?

Cimini: Ryan has changed this season, Coley. He's not the walking sound bite he was in his first few years. A few reasons for that, I think: First, he has a new boss, general manager John Idzik, an old-school, buttoned-down guy who doesn't care for all the yapping. Obviously, Ryan is coaching for his job, so in the interest of self-preservation, he has conformed to fit Idzik's head-coaching model. Second, I think Ryan realized before the season this was going to be a very young team. He knew he wouldn't be doing the players any favors by making bold predictions. Maybe you can do that with a veteran team, as he did in 2009 and 2010, but it doesn't make sense to put that kind of pressure on kids. He also has taken on more of a teaching role, running the defense on a day-to-day basis. So far, it's all working out. I don't think there's any doubt that, through seven games, he's on his way to a contract extension.

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