Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Grading the Bengals' loss to the Jets: Who stood out, who struggled in Week 8

Kelsey Conway

Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) loss to the New York Jets (2-5) was surprising and disappointing in many aspects.

Several players on the defensive side of the ball didn't tackle well as the Bengals missed 15 tackles and were unable to generate a pass rush like we've seen in previous weeks. On offense, although Cincinnati was able to score 31 points, the unit could have played better in the following areas: Third down (4-of-10), red zone ( 4-of-6), fourth down (0-for-1) and rushing yards (41). 

In order to improve to 3-0 in the AFC North and beat the Cleveland Browns (4-4) on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals collectively need to play a much cleaner game. 

Here's a look at who stood out and who didn't in the Week 8 loss to the Jets at MetLife Stadium: 

Top defensive player of the game: D.J. Reader 

The Bengals weren't able to see the full impact D.J. Reader could have in their defense in his first season with the team. Reader suffered a season-ending quad injury in the fifth game of the 2020 season. Not only has Reader shown his importance to Cincinnati's defense, he's playing as good as any defensive tackle in the NFL this season. Per Pro Football Focus, Reader recorded five quarterback hurries, the most of any player on the Bengals' roster, and was given the second-highest defensive grade for the Bengals against the run. Not only is Reader important in the run game, he's evolving as a pass rusher also and it's a big reason Cincinnati's defensive line is playing at a high level. 

Good days for: Jonah Williams, Riley Reiff 

Cincinnati's offensive line problems aren't coming from their tackles this year. Third-year left tackle Jonah Williams and veteran right tackle Riley Reiff were Cincinnati's two highest-graded offensive line players against the Jets, according to Pro Football Focus. To show just how solid Reiff and Williams were, let's take a look at the disparity in the numbers: Reiff earned an 81.2 grade and Williams with a 73.8 grade in pass blocking. The next best offensive lineman, Quinton Spain, earned a 66.0 grade in pass blocking

X-Factor: Tyler Boyd

Typically, when Tyler Boyd touches the ball, good things happen for the Bengals. That was certainly the case in New Jersey as Boyd not only made plays catching the ball, he also threw a pass that resulted into a game-changing momentum play for Cincinnati. Boyd recorded five catches for 69 yards and one touchdown. He threw a 46-yard pass to running back Joe Mixon on a trick play. Boyd earned 71.2 grade overall for his performance and was Pro Football Focus' second-highest graded Bengals player on offense. 

The not so good 

A rough day on offense for: Jackson Carman, Trey Hopkins 

The second-round pick, Jackson Carman, and the veteran, Trey Hopkins, have been a liability at times for the Bengals' offensive line. Most of the time when quarterback Joe Burrow is getting pressured, it's coming from up the middle where those two sit. Carman and Hopkins were the two lowest-graded offensive linemen for the Bengals in pass blocking. Burrow was sacked three times in the loss. Hopkins was also particularly bad in the run game as well as he earned a 48. 3 grade for his performance and was the lowest-graded player on the Bengals' roster in the run game. 

A rough day on defense for: Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither 

After Sunday's game, it became evident what teams view as Cincinnati's weak spot on defense is: The linebackers. The Jets attacked the the Bengals at the second level all game. The Bengals gave up 511 yards of total offense to a quarterback who had never started a game before, Mike White, and a rookie running back in Michael Carter. Logan Wilson led the team in missed tackles with three. Akeem Davis-Gaither recorded two of the 15 missed tackles also. Wilson was also given the Bengals' second-lowest grade in run defense, according to Pro Football Focus. 

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