Jets vs. Bengals: Takeaways from New York's 49-9 Loss to Cincinnati
The defense allowed the score to get out of control early on. Mistakes by the offense, including two pick-sixes, put the game away before the Jets could even blink.
Here are the takeaways from the loss.
Dee Milliner Should Be Permanently Benched
The Jets have forced Milliner into the starting lineup over the competent Darrin Walls, and they certainly paid the price.
Milliner was targeted early and often, just as he was in just about every single one of his starts.
The alternative, Darrin Walls, is far from a shutdown corner, but he is much more trustworthy than the Jets' top draft pick. The Bengals continued to score when Milliner was benched for Walls, but it was not because of Walls.
Rookie corners, especially Alabama products, have a history of struggling in their first season. Milliner could wind up being a tremendous player, but it may take some time—and the Jets have to be patient.
Leaving Milliner in the starting lineup would not only hurt the Jets' chances of winning; it could hurt his confidence as well. The Jets will need to ease him into playing time and give him another shot next year.
Defensive Line Is Underwhelming
The secondary will take most of the beating for the loss, but plenty of blame for their defensive disaster falls on the defensive line's shoulders.
Going against a very good offensive line for the Bengals, the Jets were unable to get much pressure on Andy Dalton all afternoon. Not only were their sack numbers low (only Wilkerson was able to log a sack), but they were barely able to collapse the pocket.
The Jets have made sacrifices in the secondary to build up their defensive line, and they were unable to come through. If they are not dominant, the Jets can be a very easy team to move the ball against.
Antonio Cromartie Is Declining
Antonio Cromartie's "slow start" has officially become a serious problem for the Jets. Without any more (reported) injuries to blame, Antonio Cromartie is a shadow of himself.
He was given a tough assignment with A.J. Green, but he was completely burned on just about every throw made in his direction.
Green finished with 115 yards, but he could have had even more if not for a few drops.
It is unclear why Cromartie is struggling so badly. Yes, he was dealing with nagging injuries and is a year older, but the drop-off from last year is stunning.
If he continues to play like this, he may not be in the Jets' future plans, no matter how good he was in 2011.
Pass-Protection Woes Continue
The Jets' pass protection has been up and down all season long—and it was definitely "down" this week.
Brian Winters and Austin Howard were beaten in one-on-one situations, but where the Jets really struggled was in blitz pickup. Reggie Nelson wreaked havoc in the backfield on blitzes, ending drive after drive for the Jets.
The Bengals are a tough team to block for anyone, and they were going to get pressure with their front four at least a few times. However, having mental errors against blitzes is inexcusable, especially when it happens so often.
If the Jets offense is going to get back on track, they need to get much better in this area on offense.
The Jets Lack Weapons
The fact that the Jets don't have a lot of offensive weapons is hardly a secret, but it was as apparent as ever in a poor showing against a very good Bengals defense.
The absence of Santonio Holmes and Kellen Winslow is starting to take a toll on the depth. The young replacements have struggled in their absence. Tight end Jeff Cumberland had just one catch, while both Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley were held to four and three catches, respectively.
The Jets had trouble getting separation, and poor pass protection made it impossible to sustain drives.
Players such as Cumberland and Kerley have been at least solid until this point, but they are not capable of carrying an offense on a weekly basis. It is more obvious than ever that the Jets need a game-breaking offensive weapon who can produce on a weekly basis.
David Nelson Has Been an Excellent Find
There were not many positives to take away from this game, but newly signed receiver David Nelson was a lonely bright spot in an otherwise ugly loss.
Nelson was the team's leading receiver, catching eight passes for 80 yards. He showed a lot of toughness coming back into the game after injuring his leg.
Despite being on the team for less than a month, Nelson has been much more productive than Stephen Hill in his time as a Jet. Without him, this loss may have been even more embarrassing.
Geno Smith Should Be Fine
While this was certainly not a good game from quarterback Geno Smith, the Jets should not overreact to his performance.
The game got away from the Jets early on, and what was initially a balanced game plan was forced to be abandoned. The fact that the running game was unimpressive from the start only made things worse.
Geno's interceptions were ugly, but he was in desperation mode, trying to make plays to get his team back in the game. If the game was closer, perhaps Smith does not take those reckless chances that cost points.
Geno Smith has a lot of promise as a young quarterback. This was a step backwards, but this was more of an anomaly than a developing trend.
It Is Just One Loss
The Jets entered this game with aspirations of being first in the division.
My, how quickly things can change in just a few hours.
The Jets were beaten in just about every single facet of the game and were not even competitive—but that does not mean they should pack it in for the rest of the season.
The Bengals are clearly lightyears ahead of the Jets, but that does not mean the Jets are as bad as the scored showed. This game got out of hand early, and a handful of mistakes compounded things against one of the most complete teams in the NFL.
While the talk of the Jets making a run at division title will be silenced for the time being, the idea that the Jets' season is over is simply inaccurate. The Jets may not be as good as many thought they were a week ago, but this is by no means a season-killing loss.