Cincinnati OL Taking Time to Gel
After allowing the third-most sacks last season (55) and the most in the playoffs (19), Cincinnati dedicated resources to its offensive line in the offseason. The team signed RT La'el Collins, RG Alex Cappa and C Ted Karras. Collins started 71 games from 2015-221 with the Cowboys, Cappa started 33 games for the Buccaneers in 2020 and 2021, and Karras started 13 games for the Patriots last season.
Through two games, however, the Bengals have allowed an NFL-high 13 sacks and rank No. 31 in pass-block grade, according to Pro Football Focus. The Jets, on the other hand, have made 3 sacks through two games.
"We all think it has to be better," Saleh said of the pass rush. "The first week, fully understood the fact we were playing Lamar [Jackson]. This week, and I'm not making excuses for the guys, presented us with a different challenge with how much they run the ball. … When we get our opportunities for 1-on-1s, we have to win. We have to keep the quarterback in the pocket and we have to be able to rush as a unit. It hasn't been bad, I'm not saying that. You just want more."
DE Carl Lawson, after recording his first (half) sack as a Jet in Week 2, will face his former team Sunday. Saleh said Lawson, "is warming up" back from his Achilles tendon injury.
"He still looks good to me and I know that there's another gear in there for him and it is coming," he said. "He's going to be fine. He's got all the power and all that stuff, there is just getting all that timing back."
See the top photos from Wednesday's practice leading up to the Bengals game.
Bengals' Slow Start
The 0-2 AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals have started slow this season. They've falllen behind, 17-3, in each game, caught up and then lost by a field goal in each. They're the first team in the Super Bowl era to lose each of their first two games on a scoring play as time expired.
QB Joe Burrow, who threw 34 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions last season, has 3 TDs and 4 picks through two games.
"I see a team that's still playing their tails off, a team that still brings it every day," HC Robert Saleh said. "They've been on the wrong side of luck. They're still the AFC champs in my mind. They still look like the AFC champs. They're still playing at a very high level and we fully expect them to be exactly what we're seeing on tape, which is a really good football team."
Running Backs as Receivers
Last season against the Bengals, RBs Michael Carter and Ty Johnson played big roles in the Jets' 34-31 win. Carter led the team with 9 receptions for 95 yards (he also had 77 rushing and 1 TD) while Johnson had 5 catches, 71 yards and a receiving score. Their combined 166 receiving yards was the fourth-highest single-game total by the Jets since 2000.
This season, the Green & White is tied for first in the league with 20 receptions by running backs and fourth in receiving yards (118). The team leads the league with 9 first-down catches by backs, and Carter is tied for second among all RBs with 12 receptions. Rookie RB Breece Hall had his first NFL touchdown last Sunday, a 10-yard reception.
"Those guys are really good when you get the ball in their hands," QB Joe Flacco said. "Any way you can do that, obviously you're not going to be able to turn around and hand the ball off every time, so the more versatile those guys are the easier you can get the ball in their hands, it definitely opens up things for your offense. I think that that's what those guys are. ... Ultimately, when you get the ball in their hands, they make guys miss."