The Bengals and Jets open up their 2016 seasons on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. And while these two teams have a few things in common, they also have many players who know each other, who played on the opposite team and who have connections to the city in which the opposing team plays.
The most significant of those connections is former Bengal turned Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The journeyman quarterback had the best year of his 11 year NFL career in 2015 with the Jets. That career-year allowed him to holdout heading into his 12th season in the league for what he was hoping would be a big contract from the Jets this offseason. Fitzpatrick missed all of spring workouts before signing a deal with $12 million guaranteed and another $3 million in incentives. He returned to the team right before the start of training camp after months of speculation regarding whether or not he’d come to terms with the Jets and who their starting quarterback would be if he didn’t.
But before all of that, Fitzpatrick spent two seasons with the Bengals after they acquired him in a trade with the Rams in 2007. The Bengals gave up a 7th-round pick in the 2008 draft for Fitzpatrick, who spent a year on the bench behind Carson Palmer before signing a one-year tender offer from the Bengals in the 2008 offseason to remain with the team for another year. In that year, Palmer went down with an elbow injury which handed over the reigns for the starting job to Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick played 13 games with 12 starts and recorded a 59.4 percent completion rate, 1,905 passing yards, 8 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. The team went 4-11-1, landing the sixth pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, a pick with which they selected Andre Smith.
“That was such a huge year of growth for me as a quarterback in my development,” Fitzpatrick said in a conference call this week via Bengals.com. “Even though it wasn’t pretty a lot of the time I learned a ton about myself and playing quarterback and I will always be thankful to Marvin (Lewis) for that opportunity and to Coach (Ken) Zampese for all that he taught me.”
While much of the season in which Fitzpatrick started was miserable for the Bengals, the team did win the final three games of the 2008 season, even shutting out the Browns in Cleveland, 14-0 in Week 16.
“That was a really hard year for me with a ton of adversity and a ton of pressure that I put on myself, but being able to work through that year and coming out in a better state of mind mentally and really growing as a quarterback, I knew after that year that I’d be able to be successful in this league. I didn’t know if I’d get another chance to start, but I knew if I did that I’d be ready for it.”
Here are more connections between the two teams.
- Bengals LB Karlos Dansby played with Jets CB Buster Skrine in Cleveland during the 2014 season.
- Dansby also played with Jets WR Brandon Marshall in Miami during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
- Jets LB Josh Martin and Bengals DE Michael Johnson were teammates for TB in 2014.
- Jets K Nick Folk and Bengals CB Adam Jones were teammates in Dallas for the 2008 season.
- Bengals WR Brandon Lafell and Jets CB Darrelle Revis played together during the 2014 season in New England.
- Jets Offensive Line Coach Steve Marshall served as the University of Tennessee offensive line coach (1993-94) when Bengals Defensive Line Coach Jacob Burney served as University of Tennessee the defensive line coach (1993).
- Jets Assistant Head Coach/Inside Linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell played linebacker (1996) in Baltimore while Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis served as their defensive coordinator.
- Bengals Defensive Line Coach Jacob Burney was the defensive line coach for Cleveland (1994-95) while Jets Defensive Line Coach Pepper Johnson (1993-95) and Jets Assistant Head Coach/Inside Linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell (1993-95) played linebackers for Cleveland.
- Jets Offensive Line Coach Steve Marshall served as the Texas A&M offensive coordinator/offensive line coach (1997) when Bengals Running Backs Coach Kyle Caskey played tight end (1997-98).
- Bengals Secondary Coach Kevin Coyle served as the Defensive Coordinator for the Dolphins (2012-15) while Jets Defensive Coordinator Kacy Rodgers served as the Dolphins defensive line coach (2008-14).
- Jets Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey served as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator (1996-97) while Bengals Linebackers Coach Jim Haslett served as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator (1997-99).
- Bengals Tight Ends Coach Jonathan Hayes played tight end (1994-96) under Jets Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey (1996-97) for the Steelers.
- Jets Defensive Coordinator Kacy Rodgers served as the Dolphins Defensive Line Coach (2008-14) while Bengals Quarterbacks Coach Bill Lazor served as Dolphins offensive coordinator (2014-15).
- Bengals Wide Receivers Coach James Urban was quarterbacks coach for the Eagles (2009-10) while Jets Assistant Head Coach/Inside Linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell served as the Eagles linebackers coach (2010).
- Bengals Offensive Coordinator Ken Zampese served as an offensive assistant with the Eagles (1998) while Jets Tight Ends Coach Jimmie Johnson (1995-98) and Jets Assistant Head Coach/Inside Linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell (1998-01) both played linebacker.
- Jets rookie LB Jordan Jenkins and Bengals S Shawn Williams played together at Georgia during the Bulldogs’ 2012 season.
- Jets WR Quincy Enunwa and T Brent Qvale were teammates with Bengals HB Rex Burkhead at Nebraska from 2010-13, where the Huskers went 28-12 over the three years.
- Jets QB Geno Smith played with Bengals DE Will Clarke at West Virginia University from 2010-12.
- Jets DL Lawrence Thomas and Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard played at Michigan State during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
- In 2013, the Spartans went 13-1 and defeated Stanford University in the Rose Bowl. Jets 2016 fifth-round pick OT Brandon Shell played with Bengals C T.J. Johnson in 2012 at South Carolina, where the Gamecocks went 11-2.
- Jets G James Carpenter (2009-10), Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick (2009-11) and Bengals QB A.J. McCarron (2010-13) all played at the University of Alabama, where the Crimson Tide compiled a 14-0 record in 2009 and a BCS National Championship.
- Jets CB Buster Skrine and Bengals CB Chris Lewis-Harris played three seasons (2008-10) together at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. The pair played corner opposite each other in the 2008 season and also earned All-SoCon honors together on the 4x100 meter relay team with football teammates Chris Marshall and Brian Sutherland.
- Jets C Nick Mangold and Bengals K Mike Nugent played at Ohio State together from 2002-04, where the Buckeyes won the 2002 BCS National Championship.
- Jets TE Kellen Davis and Bengals DT Domata Peko played the 2004 and 2005 seasons together at Michigan State.
- Jets DL Leonard Williams and Bengals CB Josh Shaw were both part of the University of Southern California’s defense from 2012-14.
- Jets WR Charone Peake and Bengals DT Deshawn Williams played the 2011, 2012 and 2014 season together at Clemson.
Former Jets who are Bengals
- Bengals Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Paul Alexander began his NFL coaching career in 1992 as the tight ends coach for the Jets.
- Bengals Linebackers Coach Jim Haslett played his final season of his NFL career with the New York Jets, playing both LB and DE.
- Bengals K Mike Nugent was a second-round draft pick of the Jets and played four seasons (2005-08) in New York. Nugent went 75-for-92 (81.5 percent) on field goal attempts and only missed one extra point attempt in his time with the Jets.
Former Bengals who are Jets
- Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick played for CIN in the 2007 and 2008 seasons and made 12 starts and led the club to a 4-3-1 record in the second half of the season in the 2008 campaign.
- Bengals LS Clark Harris hails from Manahawkin, N.J., about 90 minutes from MetLife Stadium and played his college football at Rutgers University, just 33 miles from the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
- Bengals LB Vincent Rey grew up in Far Rockaway, N.Y., just 36 miles from MetLife Stadium.
- Jets WR Jalin Marshall grew up in Middletown, Ohio, just 37 miles from Cincinnati.
- Jets C Nick Mangold is from Centerville, Ohio, less than an hour from Cincinnati.
- Jets LB Lorenzo Mauldin, RB Bilal Powell, S Calvin Pryor, and T Breno Giacomini played at Louisville.
- Jets RB Bilal Powell, S Calvin Pryor, and T Breno Giacomini played at Louisville.
- Jets offensive line coach Steve Marshall played at Louisville and coached there in 1984.
- Jets defensive line coach Pepper Johnson played at Ohio State.
- Bengals secondary coach Kevin Coyle is from Staten Island, N.Y.