CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 25: Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars fumbles the ball as he is hit by Jordan Pugh #29 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
On Sunday the Bengals are set to face a Jacksonville offense that lacks a lot of depth when it comes to truly threatening play-makers. The Jaguars offense is led by rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert and a wide receiver Mike Thomas, but if Jacksonville plans to move the ball and put up any points then they are going to rely heavily on their star running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Both teams are led by rookie quarterbacks and are relying on the running game more than they have in the past. As both quarterbacks learn the ropes of the game, having a solid running attack is going to be vital if either offense intends to put up points.
In order for the Bengals to secure a victory they are going to have to be well-prepared to stop Jones-Drew. They can turn a majority of their focus to stopping him. Jones-Drew is the type of running back that has the potential to carry his team, if given enough opportunities. And that is something the Bengals are going to have to limit on Sunday.
The Bengals No. 1 ranked defense is going to have to stay focused on the task at hand. Limiting the damage Jones-Drew piles up. He currently is the second leading rusher in the league with 391 yards while averaging 5.1 per carry. Any time the ball is in his hands, the amount of damage that he can do is endless. And that is something the Bengals defense is going to have to prevent to the best of their abilities. If the defense slips up or misses tackles then Jones-Drew is going to have a field day on the ground.
"It starts there and finishes there," said defensive end Frostee Rucker. "People talk about they have a rookie quarterback, but let's not forget (No.) 32 is back there. They went away from him a little bit last week for reasons we don't know, but we figure they'll try to get the ball in his hands and see if they can get something rolling."
Last week against the New Orleans Saints, Jones-Drew had 11 rushes for 84 yards. That's an average of 7.6 yards per carry. That's insane to say the least. So far this season the Bengals defense has been able to limit the amount of damage by opposing running attacks. They have only allowed one rusher to gain over 100 yards on the ground. And that was week two against the Broncos when Willis McGahee surprisingly ran for 101 yards on 28 carries. Otherwise the Bengals have been able to shut down Peyton Hillis, Frank Gore, and Fred Jackson. That's a legitimate list of running backs that the Bengals have faced in the young season.
The Bengals defense has allowed an average of 3.1 yards per carry up to this point of the season while allowing an average of 86.8 rushing yards per game. And that trend is going to have to continue on Sunday against Jones-Drew and the Jaguars if the Bengals are going to be victorious.