Preseason games can become meaningless things. They're not good for a fan's evaluation of the team's overall abilities, nor is it smart to use them when forecasting the regular season. Teams simply avoid using their better plays or show customized formations with specific personnel packages. For the most part they save those for the games that mean something. This month everything is base. Base formations. Base personnel packages. Base. Base. Base. However coaches and fan's alike are presented the opportunity to look at the individual players; specifically how does that one player look on the individual level. Blockers, pass rushers, situations where it becomes man vs. man. A discourse of talent and football ability.
We were really impressed with Cincinnati's pass rush during their 17-6 win over the New York Jets Friday night. It was a combination of many things. Mike Zimmer's schemes and calls, effort by Cincinnati's defenders and at one point in the second half, a noticeable discrepancy in talent. In a sense we threw the whole preseason mentality out the window to take a look at Cincinnati's pass rush that generated five quarterback sacks Friday night.
QUARTERBACK SACK NO. 1
Thomas Weber kicked the opening kickoff into the endzone, forcing the New York Jets offense to start from their own 20-yard line. After a brilliant open-field tackle by Manny Lawson and a limited gain by Shonn Greene on second down, the Jets formation lines up at their own 22-yard line with 13:46 remaining with eight yards needed to convert the third down.
The Bengals setup with a five-back formation with Rey Maualuga in the middle and Thomas Howard on the weakside.
Geno Atkins, at the right defensive tackle spot, slanted to his left while Michael Johnson worked around the offensive tackle, creating a massive hole in the B-gap. Thomas Howard blitzed into the gap, picked up by running back Bilal Powell. At this point the Jets are out of blockers and the hole that was naturally created from Mike Zimmer's call, remained open. Rey Maualuga swung around from his spot, sliding behind Thomas Howard with open shot at the quarterback.
Sanchez was sacked on the nine-yard loss and the Jets are forced to punt on the three-and-out.
QUARTERBACK SACK NO. 2
By the seven-minute mark in the first quarter, the New York Jets were conducting their second possession of the game and moving the football. Granted if the Bengals didn't line up over the center on fourth-and-two with 10:56 remaining, the Jets would have already packed their bags for a second three-and-out in as many possessions. Instead they took advantage, picking up three first downs until they reached the Bengals 41-yard line with 7:02 remaining in the first quarter.
Cincinnati responded to New York's three-wide formation with a 4-3 and Manny Lawson at his strong-side spot on the line of scrimmage. By this point Roddrick Muckelroy replaced Maualuga, who suffered a knee sprain earlier during the possession.
For the most part New York's protection worked. At first. Yet this play was nearly identical to Cincinnati's first sack. Instead of Michael Johnson taking a sweeping pass rush around the left tackle, it was Lawson. The defensive line slanted to their left and Roddrick Muckelroy was swinging around on the blitz to take advantage of the developing gap.
At first it didn't appear that Lawson made much contact to drop Sanchez, but a closer review appears that Lawson's left foot foot stepped on Sanchez's right foot, forcing him to lose his base. By that time an unblocked Roddrick Muckelroy was nearing a devastating open shot, but the quarterback went down before then.
A good Devon Still pass rush forced a terrible throw on the following play, forcing the Jets to punt.
QUARTERBACK SACK NO. 3
It wasn't until the 1:55 mark in the third quarter that the Bengals would generate their third sack of the evening. The Jets needed 12 yards on third down to convert. Dontay Moch lined up at the left defensive end spot with Micah Johnson to his right at left defensive tackle.
Robert Griffin played right tackle and when Greg McElroy took the snap, Moch slanted inside. The problem that greatly benefited the Bengals was that Griffin didn't hold station by pushing him off to the left guard. Instead Griffin shadowed Moch inside causing a collision and allowing Johnson to loop around without much contest.
Moch still penetrated and beat Griffin, hitting the quarterback just as Johnson arrived for the split quarterback sack.
QUARTERBACK SACK NO 4
Kevin Huber was forced to punt out of his own endzone early in the fourth quarter, allowing the New York Jets to have their best field position of the night. After picking up a first down and after Emmanuel Lamur dropped Terrance Ganaway for a two-yard loss, the Jets sat on Cincinnati's 19-yard line on second-and-12 with 12:22 remaining in the game.
Dan Skuta lined up at his SAM position, strong-side to where the tight end lines up.
Just before the snap, safety Jeromy Miles sprinted to the line of scrimmage, just outside of Skuta's hip. Both Jets running backs blocked to their right, taking on Skuta and Miles respectively. The fullback blocked low, taking out Skuta's legs while Ganaway's technique allowed Miles to easily shed the block. By that time Skuta had recovered from the block and speared his shoulder in McElroy's waist for the quarterback sack.
QUARTERBACK SACK NO. 5
The Bengals offense just went three-and-out and Kevin Huber punted the football 36 yards to the Jets 38-yard line. Jordan White returned the punt 12 yards to midfield where the Jets would open their next offensive possession with over nine minutes remaining in the game.
Dontay Moch lined up as an outside linebacker in a two-point stance.
To put it bluntly: The New York Jets didn't give a damn where Moch lined up. They had no intention of blocking him. He took advantage.
Moch hit McElroy, who subsequently lost the football. Brandon Thompson recovered the fumble and the Bengals wiped out nearly five minutes off the clock before New York's offense returned to the field.