The Cincinnati Bengals come into their Thursday Night Football matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars riding high after beating the Steelers. While they are the favorites in this game, they cannot be overconfident. They should have been able to easily beat the Chicago Bears in Week 2, but they did not. This is a trap that young teams face.
It’s not enough to win. You have to be able to do it week in and week out. No matter how much success you have, it is dangerous to start buying your own hype. For that reason, it is important to focus on doing the little things right.
These are the little things the Bengals need to do to win this Thursday.
With the quick turn around between games, it is important that everything about this week’s preparation be efficient. Practice and meetings must accomplish in a few short days what normally takes a week, while allowing for players to rest and recuperate to avoid injury.
The Bengals already have the home field advantage, which is huge on a Thursday night, but they could also have an organizational advantage. Urban Meyer is a rookie head coach who probably hasn’t coached a Thursday night game since his days at Utah. The Bengals, on the other hand, have been here before.
A short week means there is very little time to install a game plan. That means that the focus must be on execution.
This is a great opportunity for the Bengals’ offense. They can get back to basics and look to establish their physical presence in the run game. This will help the offensive line to develop cohesion moving forward.
Lou Anarumo’s defense has been strong this season, but they have had a few missed tackles and missed assignments along the way. Focusing on the fundamentals could be beneficial for them in the long term as well.
Establish the Offense
Despite the wealth of talent on offense, the defense has been the driving force behind this team’s success in 2021.
Even last week, Joe Burrow completed 78% of his passes, but one of the team’s three touchdowns came on a long touchdown pass and the other two were set up by interceptions.
Joe Mixon averaged five yards-per-carry, but the team went three-and-out on each of their last three drives. Those drives together took barely over five minutes off of the clock.
The defense is not going to be able to consistently perform the way they did last week when they are on the field for 83 snaps and over 35 minutes.
Going into the season, the offense came with all the hype. They need to start doing their part. They need to be able to put together long scoring drives, and they need to be able to run an effective four-minute drill to eat up clock when they have a lead in the fourth quarter.
The Bengals’ defense has clearly put an emphasis on creating turnovers in 2021.
This week, they face a rookie quarterback, in Trevor Lawrence, who has thrown seven interceptions in his three-week NFL career. The Bengals need to give him looks he hasn’t seen and manipulate his reads to create opportunities for turnovers.
The clip above shows Logan Wilson’s interception against the Chicago Bears in Week 2. This is a great example of the confusing a rookie quarterback to create a turnover.
It appears that the Bengals are bringing a seven-man pressure and playing man coverage behind it. Wilson shows blitz, but drops off after a delay. Seeing the pressure, Justin Fields knows he has to get rid of the ball quickly, so as quarterbacks often do, he throws it to a quick route over the middle. Wilson drops right into the ball’s path for the pick.
This is the sort of look they need to throw at Lawrence in key situations to create turnovers.
No Big Plays
The Jaguars have some big-play-potential at wide receiver, including D.J. Chark and a familiar face in Marvin Jones.
While the Bengals should be looking to create turnovers defensively, they must play safe and disciplined. The Jaguars must be made to earn any points they put on the board and not just score on one long play.