It sounds like a storyline from “The Twilight Zone”, but the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals are entering must-win territory this week against the New York Jets. After inexplicably falling to 0-2, Zac Taylor’s team needs to start their ascension back to the top of the conference this week.
Helping us preview the upcoming matchup is another great guest from the BLEAV podcast network in Andrew Golden. He is one of the hosts of “BLEAV in Jets” along with former New York running back, LaMont Jordan and gave us great insight on things as we hit Week 3.
One of the facets that Golden spoke on with us is the Jets’ defensive scheme and what they may dial up against Cincinnati. As we know by now, two-safety looks and variations of the “Tampa 2” have provided major roadblocks for the Bengals this season.
However, according to Golden, the Jets may deviate from that plan of success this week.
“Well, they’re (the Bengals) going to see much ‘Tampa 2’, I can say that for sure,” Golden said. “The Jets are a single-high team, first and foremost. Robert Saleh is a Pete Carroll disciple, so at his core, he is ‘Cover 3’. You know, press on the outside, let your corners bail and play seven drop back and rush four to get pressue.”
It would seem that Cincinnati’s offense is in a state of transition, of sorts, as they adjust to what teams have shown them on defense since last postseason. The Bengals have seemed to have been trying to find ways to negate the two-deep safety looks. However, it may seem that they may want to go back to a big part of their 2021 formula for success.
“They (the Jets’ defense) some blitzing and man coverage on third down, they really like when they get into third-and-longs and that’s when you’ll see pressure come out,” Golden said. “Robert Saleh doesn’t call the plays—the defensive coordinator, Jeff Ulbrich, who was the Falcons’ linebacker coach a few years ago—he was under Dan Quinn in Atlanta, so it’s all off of the same Seattle tree. It’s not going to be a lot of ‘Tampa 2’.”
Going back to Carroll’s “Legion of Boom”, it’s a lot of head-to-head battles between players and individual matchups deciding games. Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Earl Thomas and others excelled in specific matchups, as well as utilizing a blend of range and physicality to dominate their opponent. Saleh’s current New York roster and concepts appear to try and emulate these ideas.
Interestingly, Golden noted that the lack of playing “Tampa 2” may not matter that much. But, in his reasoning, there is a bit of a dichotomy within the logic.
“The Jets’ secondary, outside of their safeties, has been playing very well,” Golden continued. “Lamarcus Joyner has been probably one of the worst safeties in football, while Jordan Whitehead has been middle-of-the-pack and their cornerback group has been pretty dang good. D.J. Reed has been excellent as a free agent from the Seahawks...and ‘Sauce’ Gardner has been everything you’d ask him to be and has been as advertised.”
When John Sheeran asked this question of Golden, it centered around local kid-turned-pro, in Gardner. Golden noted that Gardner plays boundary corner on early downs and then in later downs in which passes may be obvious, he has been seen covering the likes of Mark Andrews.
Impressive by the rookie, but there is something to note about Golden’s earlier point. The Jets’ safeties aren’t playing well and the fact that Cincinnati probably won’t see a lot of two-deep safety shells this Sunday.
This provides a potential avenue for the Bengals to get back to some deep ball passing, contested catch opportunities and other facets of the 2021 offense that made them so successful.
We’ll see if they are up to the task and which approach wins out this Sunday.
Also on tap this with Golden week:
- Is Joe Flacco more than a placeholder for Zach Wilson?
- How much belief has Robert Saleh instilled in the team and the fan base?
- Just how potent is this under-the-radar pass-catching group?
- How have former Bengals Carl Lawson and C.J. Uzomah looked?
- And more (including your questions)!
Our thanks to Andrew Golden of BLEAV Network. You can catch BLEAV in Jets here, otherwise catch our interview on all available platforms now!
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