When the Bengals defense forced four interceptions against Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers during the first three weeks into the regular season, it was the most Cincinnati had generated in that span to start a season since 2010; second-most to open a season during Mike Zimmer's six-year tenure as the team's defensive coordinator.
Since then, names like Bryan Hoyer, Thad Lewis and Matthew Stafford have avoided the momentum-changing pick while Cincinnati's last interception came nine quarters ago during Adam Jones' game-sealing fourth quarter interception against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Through seven games this year, the Cincinnati Bengals defense have generated only five picks -- which is roughly in the middle of the pack among all NFL teams; ten defenses have less interceptions. Yet when it compare to the other New Bengals teams since '11, Cincinnati's five is more than the three that the team posted at this point in the season in 2011 and 2012.
The good news is that Cincinnati will be facing a quarterback (and an offense) that could satisfy Cincinnati's hunger for turnovers. The New York Jets have 15 total turnovers on offense, with 14 coming from New York's quarterback.
Jets quarterback Geno Smith has thrown the third-most interceptions this year with 11. In four of New York's first seven games this season, the rookie has thrown multiple interceptions in four and at least one in every game save for New York's 30-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons. And when he's not throwing an interception, Smith has fumbled the football six times (lost three), been sacked 25 times (second-most), with 14 total turnovers.
"He loves to hold the ball a little bit so hopefully we can get him to pat the ball and let the guys up front get to him," Bengals quarterback Adam Jones said before Wednesday's practice via Bengals.com. "I know him a little more because he went to West Virginia. I probably couldn't tell you about any of the other quarterbacks if we’re not facing them but I did watch him a little more because he went to West Virginia. I got a chance to meet him a couple of times. He’s a good solid kid. Hopefully we can make it rowdy for him this Sunday, have the guys get to him a couple of times. I know he doesn't like the pressure."
However, Mike Zimmer isn't about to take Smith lightly, nor rely on the struggles that the kid had during previous games.
"He’s got a cannon. I showed the players this morning a ball he threw from one hash about 40 yards down the field on a rope to the far sideline," Zimmer said via Bengals.com. "Obviously he’s a young guy that’s maturing, but I do feel like he’s gotten much better in the last few weeks.
"He’s got some running ability. He’s starting to scramble more than he was earlier in the year. He’s got good speed, but he’s a strong runner, so all of these things become issues."
By our count, the last rookie quarterback that the Bengals have defeated (and faced) was Nick Foles during Cincinnati's 34-13 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in week 15 last year. Even in that game, the Bengals were struggling losing 13-10 at half time before Leon Hall's interception shifted the momentum for a 24-point second half.