Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
As Adam Gase emphasized during the week, the Jets were entering this week's game as a 4-7 team and they sure played like one against the Bengals on Sunday. Now they're a 4-8 team, having lost to a winless team for the second time since the bye week.
To their credit, the Bengals played with good energy and discipline on defense, and rode a solid Andy Dalton performance in his return to the lineup to break a 13-game losing streak that stretched back to last December.
Offensively, the Jets had some near misses, but struggled to sustain drives, mainly due to dropped passes and ill-timed penalties. The Bengals exploited some coverage breakdowns to score two first half touchdowns and built a 17-3 lead before the Jets drove for a late field goal.
Rather than come out of the gates with some momentum in the second half, the Jets went backwards on their first possession thanks to two penalties, one of which negated what would have been Le'Veon Bell's longest run of the season. Then, the next time they got the ball, they were backed up to their own goal line, so another penalty gave the Bengals a safety and the ball back two plays later.
Things didn't improve in the fourth quarter as any kind of rhythm or momentum on offense proved elusive and the Bengals held on comfortably for the 16-point win.
Meanwhile, here are some other takeaways from the Jets' disappointing loss …
- The Jets once again scored on their first drive but had to settle for a field goal after a dropped pass by one of last week's heroes, Braxton Berrios. They only scored one other time, on a two-minute drive at the end of the first half, and never got into the red zone.
- Special teams were a key factor in this game, as the Jets started 10 of their 11 possessions at or inside their own 25-yard line, whereas Cincinnati had much better field position throughout. In fact, they started all seven of their second half possessions at their 35-yard line or better. The Jets had a couple of costly penalties on the return unit, but Bengals punter Kevin Huber performed much better than Lachlan Edwards.
- The Jets failed to generate much pressure in this game. Other than Steve McLendon's second half sack, Brian Poole was the only player credited with a quarterback hit. Cincinnati neutralized Gregg Williams' blitz packages by having Dalton get rid of the ball quickly when they sent pressure and relying on his patience to pick apart their zone coverage when they didn't. Linebacker James Burgess led the Jets with nine tackles, but this was in large part due to the Bengals targeting him underneath regularly.
- Wide receiver Robby Anderson was a rare bright spot with over 100 receiving yards on seven catches, but again his performance was highlighted by a near miss. Anderson got behind the defense for a potential early touchdown but was unable to scoop up Sam Darnold's underthrown pass in the end zone.
- The recent improvements on the offensive line were rendered a thing of the past in this game as Darnold was under constant pressure and, worryingly, hurt his ankle on two separate occasions. Carlos Dunlap was a constant menace, as he racked up six quarterback hits including three sacks.
- To make matters worse, Kelvin Beachum, Tom Compton and Brandon Shell had seven penalties between them. The Bengals' entire team had just two penalties all day - and one of those was a delay of game where they deliberately let the clock run out.
- Former starter Darryl Roberts made his return, but the Jets opted to stick with Arthur Maulet and Blessuan Austin as the starters outside. Roberts only got into the game briefly on defense when both Brian Poole and Maulet suffered injuries, but returned to the bench once they got back into the game. Recent addition Maurice Canady was getting reps ahead of Roberts.
- On the stat sheet, this was another quiet game for rookie defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, but he was more disruptive than he's been over the past few weeks, penetrating regularly into the backfield and generating some pressure up the middle. His best play saw him blow up a run for a loss in the third quarter.
- With the Jets now definitely out of postseason contention, it will be interesting to see whether the focus shifts to next season and the team prioritizes getting some of their young players more reps so they can see who they should plan to rely on next season.