New York vs. Cincinnati: Jets Preseason Week 2 Game Preview
Coming off an exciting 13-10 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium, the New York Jets head to Cincinnati hoping for more preseason success against the defending AFC North champion Bengals.
The Bengals also played in an entertaining preseason Week 1 contest, as they were just edged out by the Chiefs, 41-39, in a shootout.
Although Saturday's contest won't show up in the standings, Gang Green will be hoping to exact revenge on a Bengals team that demolished them by 40 points last October.
Reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson certainly wants to make amends for the defense's poor showing in that game. He told the Jets official website, "We owe them one. We owe them one big-time. That was honestly pretty much the only team that dog-walked this defense like that, honestly, to me personally."
While the main goal of the game is to avoid any major injuries and to evaluate some young players, it's refreshing to hear that New York will be playing tough.
Rex Ryan is also not going to breeze through Saturday's game, as he sees the contest as a way to assess the starting lineup in full swing.
Rex Ryan anticipates that Jets starters will play the entire first half vs Bengals on Saturday. #nyj
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 13, 2014
With that said, here is our preview for the Jets vs. Bengals Week 2 game on Saturday night.
New York Jets Preseason Week 1 Recap
After what seemed like an eternity without competitive football, the New York Jets returned to the field last Thursday against the AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts.
While all three units showed some rust, the Jets still managed to come away with a 13-10 victory, thanks to a late 51-yard field goal by backup kicker Andrew Furney.
Geno Smith was solid on the night, completing four of six passes for 33 yards, while Michael Vick used his legs to orchestrate the team's only touchdown drive of the night.
Third-string quarterback Matt Simms played all of the second half, and while he couldn't lead the offense to a touchdown, he completed 13 of 18 passes for 96 yards in an efficient performance.
With Ryan stating that the starters will play the entirety of the first 30 minutes against the Bengals, it'll be interesting to see how much Simms sees the field. Smith and Vick may be the only two signal-callers to make an appearance.
Linebacker A.J. Edds was a surprising standout in last Thursday's game, as he registered a team-high eight tackles, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.
Edds, a 2010 fourth-round pick, needs to continue to impress if he's going to make the final roster in a crowded linebacker unit. Expect him to come out guns blazing when he gets his chance on Saturday.
It wasn't all good, though, as Chris Ivory and David Nelson both left with injuries. However, both are expected to be fine, per Dom Cosentino of NJ.com.
The secondary, long considered one of the team's main weaknesses, also struggled. Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck combined to go 14-of-20 for 167 yards and a touchdown. Dimitri Patterson was especially awful, as he allowed two long third-down completions that extended drives.
News and Notes
Cornerbacks Falling Like Dominoes
Cornerback was considered an issue prior to training camp. Now, the position has to be deemed as a huge liability.
Injuries have taken a huge toll on the cornerback unit. According to Seth Walder of the New York Daily News, the Jets' top three corners are all on the sidelines.
Dexter McDougle tore his ACL and is out for the season. Dee Milliner has a high-ankle sprain and is a question mark for Week 1. Dimitri Patterson is dealing with a plethora of nagging leg injuries.
The injuries have decimated the depth chart, and the team must now rely upon players such as Darrin Walls and Kyle Wilson to man the outside. In fact, the Jets are so desperate for decent cornerback play that they've moved Antonio Allen over from safety.
Rex Ryan says Antonio Allen will start at cornerback vs Bengals on Saturday. #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 12, 2014
The Jets must hope that Milliner and Patterson can recover from their injuries in a timely manner and perform well upon their return. For now, though, the team has to rely upon several unproven players.
Bringing Back the Wildcat?
The Wildcat experiment failed miserably in 2012 with Tim Tebow, but it's not stopping the Jets from thinking about utilizing it once again—this time with Michael Vick.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York, Gang Green is mulling the idea of giving Vick his own special package of plays as a change-of-pace quarterback to starter Geno Smith.
Vick has more dangerous legs and a more accurate arm than Tebow ever did, so the Wildcat could be much more successful with him under center.
However, the idea has been met with heavy criticism from some, including former Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb.
McNabb and others' criticism is understandable, but I can't help but feel that the Jets would be wasting a chance for explosiveness on offense by confining Vick to the backup role.
It'll be interesting to see if the Jets try Vick in any kind of Wildcat role on Saturday against the Bengals.
Which Wide Receivers Will Step Up?
The Jets did a lot to improve the receiving corps this offseason.
The team signed former Bronco Eric Decker, who has put up consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, as well as speedster Jacoby Ford.
New York also selected three receivers in the draft: Jalen Saunders, Shaq Evans and Quincy Enunwa.
However, the receiving corps is still a huge question mark as we approach the regular season.
According to Cimini, none of the three rookie wideouts managed to impress at SUNY Cortland.
Evans is out for the year with a shoulder injury, while Saunders didn't do much to grab the attention of the coaching staff. Enunwa struggled through both a nagging injury and drops.
Stephen Hill, the 2012 second-rounder whom New York seems to be relying upon to be the team's No. 2 wideout, has also been inconsistent.
Rough day for Jets WR Stephen Hill. Two clear drops in the rain. Another one that he had both hands on & probably should have caught. #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 12, 2014
The Jets still have several weeks until Week 1, but the alarms are beginning to go off at wideout. Hopefully, one of the aforementioned receivers can step up in the preseason, so the team can have some confidence in its skill position players heading into the regular season.
Cornerback isn't the only position where the Jets have suffered injuries, as the team has been struck by the injury bug at many positional units.
Projected starters Eric Decker, Jeff Cumberland and Chris Ivory have dealt with nagging injuries, but Rex Ryan is confident that all three will make an appearance on Saturday.
Rex Ryan says that TE Jeff Cumberland's Achilles injury isn't serious. Believes he will still play vs Bengals. #nyj
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 13, 2014
Rex Ryan says that he thinks Chris Ivory (ribs) will play Sat vs Bengals #nyj
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 12, 2014
Jeremy Reeves, Brent Qvale and Markus Zusevics are four players who are all on the outside looking in in terms of making the final roster.
It's unclear if any of them will play on Saturday, but it would gravely hurt their chances if they were to sit out.
Dimitri Patterson is a major question mark to play against the Bengals. New York has already found a replacement in safety Antonio Allen, who will match up with All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post.
Milliner's injury likely opens the door for Darrin Walls to start. Walls was decent when asked to replace Milliner a year ago.
X-Factors and Matchups to Watch
Antonio Allen vs A.J. Green
Antonio Allen has never played cornerback on the college or professional level, so it makes sense that his first task at the position would be one of the best wide receivers in the game.
Since being drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, A.J. Green has been one of the league's most dangerous wideouts. He's registered 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons, and he's put up 29 touchdowns over that span.
With a 6'4'' frame and 4.5 speed, Green is a tough cover for even the best corners in the game, let alone one with no experience at the position.
Allen has had a difficult time adjusting to his new job, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. The South Carolina product was beaten several times in this week's practices, including by Eric Decker for an easy touchdown.
While he possesses great athleticism and a good frame, Allen needs to have the game of his life to slow down Green, who should play at least a few series at the start of the contest.
Sheldon Richardson vs. Marshall Newhouse
While Allen vs. Green seems like an unfairly one-sided matchup, Sheldon Richardson and Andre Smith would be an intense battle between two of the best at their respective positions.
Richardson is the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year and one of the most complete defensive ends in football. He's terrific at both stopping the run and rushing the passer from the edge.
Smith, the sixth overall pick in 2009, has been one of the most consistent and solid offensive tackles in the game in recent years. He's particularly tough in pass protection.
Smith, however, has remained on the sidelines for most of training camp with a concussion, and he's likely to miss Saturday's contest, according to Jason Marcum of the Cincy Jungle.
Marshall Newhouse, who is a huge step down from Smith, is expected to start at right tackle. Richardson, who has been waiting for this rematch, should dominate the inferior opponent.
David Harris and Demario Davis vs. Giovani Bernard
Giovani Bernard ran for less than 700 yards, but he still ranks among the most dangerous running backs in the NFL.
Bernard averaged a solid 4.1 yards per carry while catching 56 passes for 514 yards and totaling eight touchdowns.
The North Carolina product has the ability to tear defenses apart with poor linebacker play. However, New York has a pair of linebackers who are capable of shutting down the youngster.
David Harris and Demario Davis are one of the few linebacker tandems with the speed and athleticism to catch up to and slow down Bernard.
Whoever gets the advantage between Bernard and the pair of inside linebackers could end up deciding the game on Saturday.
Jets' X-Factor of the Week: Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson is expected to be one of New York's most productive offensive players in 2014, but on Saturday, he needs to be even more than that.
With Chris Ivory questionable to play, Johnson will be relied upon to receive most of Gang Green's carries.
While Johnson isn't the same player as he once was, he expects to perform well in a new offensive system, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York.
The Bengals have possessed one of the league's finest run defenses in recent seasons, so Johnson's performance could give us a good idea of how well he will perform in 2014.
Without a doubt, the Jets will win if CJ2K reverts back to his old self on Saturday.
Both the Jets and the Bengals should play their starters for the majority of Saturday's contest, so expect a tightly contested and intense game.
While New York should outperform Cincinnati in the running game and on special teams, the Bengals should have their way in passing situations.
Geno Smith and Gang Green's offense will have a hard time making plays against a strong Cincy secondary, and New York's secondary will struggle to contain A.J. Green and the Bengals offense.
Rex Ryan and Co. have a lot of potential to make some noise in 2014, but the Bengals just aren't the kind of team to showcase that potential, as they boast a complete squad with little weaknesses outside of an inconsistent quarterback.
Gang Green will keep it close, but it's difficult to envision the Jets winning another preseason game against one of the favorites in the AFC, especially if the Bengals choose to utilize their starters for at least the first half.
Bengals 24, Jets 17