NFL Nation: 2014 NFL Preseason Week 3 NYJ at CIN Observation Deck

Observation Deck: Cincinnati Bengals

August, 16, 2014

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals are now 0-2 in preseason play following Saturday night's 25-17 loss to the New York Jets.

But it's not the final score Bengals fans should be concerned about. It really wasn't indicative of how well the Bengals' first- and second-team units played in the more meaningful snaps early in the contest. It was more indicative of how wide the chasm is between the Bengals' starters and their last-string backups. Cincinnati was up 17-3 and looking to increase its lead before the lineup changes.

For most of the first two quarters, the Bengals looked nearly flawless. Quarterback Andy Dalton, in fact, was a perfect 8-for-8 on his passing opportunities. False start and holding penalties were about the only issues this group had offensively. Defensively, the Bengals had to watch for swinging arms and hard shoves from Jets linemen. In all, the Jets were flagged six times for committing either personal foul or unnecessary roughness penalties.

Here are a few more thoughts on the Bengals' preseason game Saturday:
  • Not only was Dalton perfect from an accuracy standpoint, but he also passed for 144 yards and rushed for seven. He also had a passing touchdown and has led scoring drives on all four of the series he's been in for this preseason. Two field goals have resulted from drives he's led, and two touchdown have as well. In addition to Dalton's 43-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu on Saturday, Giovani Bernard capped another drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Dalton's three-series day began with a 4-for-4 performance on the opening drive that included Sanu's touchdown catch. That score came when Dalton dropped a well-placed pass into Sanu's hands at the top of a post route. Sanu beat his cornerback and caught the pass as a safety closed on him. At halftime, Sanu said this about the throw: "Andy just dropped it on a dime. All I had to do was stick my hands out and not drop it."
  • The Bengals' no-huddle offense really has taken shape this preseason. It was evident all throughout the game, most notably in the first and fourth quarters. At one point on Dalton's second drive, the Bengals called five straight no-huddle plays before the Jets finally called a timeout. The offense was in sync during that five-play portion of the series, too, gaining 70 yards and getting into red-zone territory after A.J. Green caught a 35-yard pass that he might have tried pushing for a score in a non-preseason game. It seemed as if he stepped out of bounds early to avoid contact. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has been coy about how much he plans on using the no-huddle segments of his offense, but it has been clear the Bengals are going to make it a focal point of their more aggressive and rhythm-based scheme.
  • Last Saturday, Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson told his team's website that New York "owed" the Bengals for the 49-9 thrashing Cincinnati handed the Jets last October. Apparently his words struck a nerve. The Bengals came out with a slightly sharpened edge defensively, and it seemed to rub off on the similarly anxious Jets, who couldn't avoid committing the aforementioned personal-foul infractions.
  • Injuries were an issue late for the Bengals as several were run from the game. Most notably, rookies Darqueze Dennard (hip), Jeremy Hill (shoulder), Marquis Flowers (ankle) and Jeremy Wright (hip) -- all draft picks -- were banged up. Flowers was the only one of them who returned. Along with them, linebacker J.K. Schaffer (head), running back Rex Burkhead (knee) and quarterback Tyler Wilson (head) were lost for the game, too.

Observation Deck: New York Jets

August, 16, 2014

CINCINNATI -- The New York Jets were an undisciplined mess Saturday night against the Cincinnati Bengals in a 25-17 win at Paul Brown Stadium. They committed 12 penalties for 133 yards, including seven personal fouls -- Breno Giacomini (two), Brian Winters (two), Willie Colon (one), Stephen Hill (one) and Demario Davis (one).

Giacomini and Colon set an early tone, losing their cool in a couple of skirmishes. Evidently, the Jets (2-0) arrived with a chip on their shoulder, dating to last year's blowout loss to the Bengals. Somehow, they managed to overcome a 17-3 deficit despite a shaky performance by the starting defense.

A few other takeaways from the game:
  • Geno Smith didn't do anything to make the Jets re-think their plan at quarterback. He played the entire first half -- a total of 31 plays -- and was good enough on 30 of them. The only blemish was his first interception of the preseason, but it may not have been entirely his fault. There appeared to be a miscommunication with David Nelson on a quick throw. All told, Smith (10-for-13, 98 yards) played six series, leading the offense to two touchdowns and a field goal. Impressive, right? Well, take a closer look. The first touchdown drive was only 19 yards, following a takeaway, and the second came against the Bengals' backups. Still, he made good decisions, checking down to his second reads and running when necessary. In fact, he scored on a 1-yard run. Michael Vick (5-for-9, 70 yards) threw a touchdown pass in garbage time. It's still Smith's job.
  • The biggest positive on offense was the performance of Chris Johnson (10 carries for 63 yards), who flashed some of that old burst. He ran mostly out of the pistol formation and was able to get around the corner a couple of times. Chris Ivory (ribs) didn't play, so Johnson and Bilal Powell (2-yard touchdown run) were the primary ballcarriers. Overall, the running game was much better than last week.
  • The Jets didn't look like a top-5 defense (Rex Ryan's prediction), especially in the secondary. It was a brutal performance by the pass defense, as Andy Dalton finished 8-for-8 for 144 yards and a touchdown. When facing the Bengals' starters, the Jets allowed two touchdowns and a field goal in three series. This wasn't just a cornerback issue, this was an everywhere issue. Nickel back Kyle Wilson was torched for a 43-yard touchdown (Dawan Landry was late with deep help) and safety-turned-corner Antonio Allen surrendered a 35-yard completion. Allen, in his first game at corner, was tested only that one time. The Jets need Dee Milliner (ankle) to get well in a hurry. They also need help on the other side. The cornerback issue is more glaring than ever.
  • You want some good news about the defense? In his NFL debut, rookie safety Calvin Pryor made a couple of impact plays. He recovered a fumble on a strip sack by Davis and blew up wide receiver Cobi Hamilton on a pass play, separating ball from receiver. No doubt, the Jets expect to see plenty of those big hits from Pryor, one of the main reasons why they drafted him 18th overall. He didn't start, but he got work with the first team, which played the entire first half. Unfortunately, Pryor didn't get a chance to face Dalton, A.J. Green & Co. Overall, this was a positive first step.