New York Jets: 3 lessons to learn from Sunday’s resurgent opponent

joe burrow, bengals

MetLife Stadium’s Sunday showdown features two downtrodden franchises, but one paces the AFC. What can the New York Jets learn?

Going through the respective histories of the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals is an exercise in futility and annoyance.

Nothing more needs to be written about the Jets’ 50-plus year championship drought, one only complemented by the longest active playoff drought in the NFL, a record they’re in absolutely no danger of losing at 10 years and counting. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is close behind (along with Denver and undefeated Arizona) at five years. but it’s been a full-on three decades since the Bengals have won a mere playoff game. The team is also the only member of the former American Football League that hasn’t captured a championship in the AFL or the merged NFL. Cincinnati’s relatively small-town settings away from the New York spotlight have perhaps helped them avoid the jokes and memes often sent the Jets way in reference to their lack of gridiron accolades.

Yet, as the star-crossed franchises prepare for a Halloween showdown at MetLife Stadium on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS), the Bengals are the toast of the AFC. If the season ended today, the Bengals (5-2) would be the owners of the sole postseason bye on the conference bracket. Energized by the collegiate champion duo of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati made a big statement through a one-sided victory in Baltimore last weekend. Their two losses, one of which was an overtime loss to the mighty Green Bay Packers, have come by a combined six points.

It’s not like there was any advance warning from Bengals: they won 13 games over the past three seasons and there was significant concern about their young superstars. Burrow was coming off a devastating knee injury sustained 10 games into his rookie season while the arrival of Chase carried the red flags of drops and not being an offensive lineman who could protect the young quarterback. As the second half of the season nears, the Bengals will likely be among the most popular choices among those in charge of flexible scheduling.

Conventional football wisdom suggests that the Bengals are prime prey for a trap game against the reeling Jets (1-5), but even the most optimistic Jets fan…that poor, poor soul… is dreading the Halloween nightmare that lies ahead.

The Jets are fresh off a 41-point defeat at the hands of the mediocre New England Patriots. New York won’t even have the services of its young franchise quarterback to work with, as a strained PCL will keep Zach Wilson out for at least the next two weeks. Gang Green will go into the aerial battle with Mike White, who will make his first NFL start while Joe Flacco prepares for his New York rearrival.

If anything, the Jets can take several lessons from a brother in futility…

A good tight end brings a right end

One of the Bengals’ veteran breakout stars has been tight end C.J. Uzomah. The seventh-year pro already turned himself into a popular, eternal Cincinnati trivia answer last season when he caught Burrow’s first touchdown pass before a torn Achilles ended his season prematurely. Uzomah’s receptions have been some of Cincinnati’s biggest energizers: of his 17 receptions, 10 have gone for either first downs or touchdowns. He was appropriately one of the biggest stars of the Bengals’ win over the Ravens on National Tight Ends Day, earning 91 yards on three receptions, two of which were good for long touchdowns.

Burrow believed he had something strong brewing with Uzomah in limited collaboration last year.

“I think he was our top target through two weeks last year…unfortunately, (he) went down with a knee injury early but we really clicked from the beginning with each other,” Burrow said, per Kelsey Conway of Cincinnati.com. Head coach Zac Taylor added in the same report that Uzomah has “found his spot”.

“Joe has a lot of confidence in him,” Taylor said. “He always makes plays when his number is called.”

The Jets are cursed with a laundry list of issues, so much so to the point where their tight end woes have almost been forgotten about. Their necessary removal of Chris Herndon netted them a fourth-round pick but Tyler Kroft, Ryan Griffin, and Trevon Wesco (a combined 110 yards through six games) have done little to pick up the slack. Tight end should undoubtedly be high on the Jets’ offseason to-do list, whether such help comes from free agency (a list that, in fact, includes Uzomah) or the draft (SEC standouts Jalen Wydermyer and Cameron Latu are among the options).

Find and establish a defensive identity

The Jets’ defense was one of the few silver linings about the first four games. What the unit was able to do with a hodgepodge of final camp cuts, day three draft selections, and rookie free agents was admirable, especially considering the awkward spots that offensive turnovers and struggles created for them. The pass rush (confirmed to be missing the services of former Bengal Carl Lawson for the whole season) was particularly impressive, earning 14 sacks through the first four games. That success was personified through a four-year extension via a four-year extension (featuring $30 million guaranteed) for John Franklin-Myers.

But consecutive no-shows have rendered the defense guilty in the ongoing struggles. They were able to salvage a poor first half performance against Atlanta in London with two turnovers but the brutality in Foxboro was all kinds of ugly: Sunday marked the eighth time in franchise history that the Jets allowed at least 550 yards a game and the first time since 1995’s season opener that they allowed at least 50 points in a game. The pass rush, which could’ve helped for the team’s identity for the future, has been non-existent over the past two games: they’ve earned one sack in that span, earned by Del’Shawn Phillips in New England when all was lost.

The struggles on defense have prevented the Jets from leaving the strong footprint in the trenches that Robert Saleh hoped would shape the team’s identity as they emerged from the post-London bye.

“I think we all stand in lockstep with Joe (Douglas), in terms of we’re going to be identified upfront,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “Our D-line has been extremely effective. (It’s been) very, very good playing with a lot of energy, a lot of just overpowering teams, overpowering their opponent. I think (that identity is) starting to get established.”

Cincinnati, meanwhile, believes that they’ve succeeded in establishing their own defensive identity, one generated through physicality, resiliency, and football smarts.

“That’s one thing that we know we are: We’re a tough team. We give everybody our best shot,” first-year Bengal Chidobe Awuzie said of the unit, per Kaelen Jones of The Ringer. “I think the most important thing is proving  (we can compete with the top teams) to ourselves and…building an identity as a team, as a defense.”

“Everybody (has) their football smarts and intelligence,” safety Vonn Bell, in his second year with the team, added through notes with the team. “We’ve just been bonding, and it’s just been gelling together. We’re playing together. It’s a great feeling.”

Find a time and place to use weapons

A hidden subplot of Sunday’s game is the connection between Jets receiver Denzel Mims and Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson. The Jets had a chance to take Wilson in the late stages of the second round of 2020’s draft, but chose Mims with the 59th overall pick. Wilson, the Wyoming linebacker, went six picks later as the first pick of the third round. He has gone on to become one of Cincinnati’s defensive leaders while Mims has inexplicably struggled to gain snaps.

As owners of the top pick in each round of the 2020 draft, the Bengals took advantage: the selections of Burrow and Wilson sandwiched the choosing of Tee Higgins at the top of the second. Cincinnati’s staff, headed by the offensive minds of Taylor and coordinator Brian Callahan, has managed its assets well. Higgins has been a strong depth option alongside slot weapon Tyler Boyd. A strong rushing attack headed by Joe Mixon has been well complemented by spell option Samaje Perine.

Enough also can’t be said about the confidence bestowed in Chase, who has shot up the 2021 Rookie of the Year power rankings. It’s apparent there is a strong rapport between Chase and receivers coach/former All-American Troy Walters, one that has played to the Bengals’ benefit.

Walters, for example, never lost faith in Chase despite some early struggles and now believes that he has only scratched the surface of what he can accomplish at the professional level. The eight-year NFL veteran has noted that Chase has kept their chemistry and routines going despite reaching other-worldly levels of production.

“Nothing has changed. A lot of times when guys have success they stop doing what got them there. But he’s putting the time in all the days before Sunday. He’s got the routine down of how to be a pro,” Walters said of Chase, per team reporter Geoff Hobson. Referring to Chase’s 201-yard outing against the Ravens, it was apparent that Walters’ guidance helped him stay the course after he was frustrated by early Baltimore coverages.

“He wasn’t complaining or griping,” Walters said. “He understood his time was going to come. His average shows when he gets the ball in his hands, he can make some magic.”

Sunday’s game begins an 11-game stretch of uninterrupted football for the hapless Jets, one that will serve as de facto research and development for the future. If the Jets do anything over this final stretch, the coaching staff needs to find ways for young weapons like Mims and Elijah Moore to contribute on a more extensive basis. The team has, in fact, done a solid job of allowing rookie Michael Carter to establish his identity on the game’s rushing antics. It’s time

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Who Ya Got Wednesday: New York Jets vs. Cincinnati Bengals

mike white, michael carter, jets

Do the undermanned, Zach Wilson-free New York Jets stand a chance against the surprise AFC North leaders? ESM’s experts debate.

  • What: Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) @ New York Jets (1-5)
  • Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
  • When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
  • Watch: CBS
joe burrow, bengals

Geoff Magliocchetti

Those partaking in 2021 NFL regular season action have been waiting for the other shoe to drop on Cincinnati, the current owners of the AFC’s only bye.

But last week’s shocking win in Baltimore proved that the Bengals are here to stay. If not for two narrow losses to interconference competition, they could’ve stuck alongside Arizona in the ranks of the unbeaten. All this and more spells doom for the next team to run into them…and that just so happens to be the hapless New York Jets.

Such circumstances, as well as the state of the Bengals’ woebegone hosts, set up the perfect recipe for a trap game. But the Jets were barely prepared to give the mediocre Patriots a challenge, and that’s when they had the services of their franchise quarterback. The Bengals will have their share of non-believers, but this isn’t their week to talk.

New York football is in dire straits. Right now, the Jets’ goal is to bide their time until Wilson comes back, to get their train of development back on track. Last week’s six-plus touchdown loss to the Patriots was all too reminiscent of the defeats suffered in the Adam Gase era. This week has the potential to get ugly with the Bengals looking to decimate their doubters. There’s a chance for the defense to redeem themselves after a 551-yard, 54-point allowance…and with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, that’s no guarantee…but not much else for sickly Gang Green.

Bengals 27, Jets 3

Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Brendan Carpenter

The Jets will not win this week against the Bengals. I know it, you know it, we all know it.

There are numerous injuries plaguing the team right now, highlighted by Zach Wilson who could be sidelined up to four weeks with a strained PCL. No one wishes an injury on a player, but the time spent sitting back, watching, and learning could help the young QB. Having Joe Flacco back in the mix to help him helps as well.

Mike White is now expected to make his first NFL start Sunday against Cincinnati. It’ll be interesting to see the gameplan with White under center, as he cannot do some of the things Wilson can. In all honesty, that may help offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. It seems, at times that LaFleur is caught up in the possibility of Wilson making big plays, instead of giving him easy options. So, it may be easier for him this weekend. Of course, that’s not all on LaFleur, but it could potentially be a factor.

The defense will be another story. With injuries piling up, especially to the linebacker group, the middle of the field will not be fun to watch. Blake Cashman, Hamseh Nasirildeen, and Jamien Sherwood now all find themselves on IR. C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams are both questionable for the game as well. Who will play linebacker? I genuinely don’t know.

Joe Burrow and rookie standout Ja’Marr Chase may set all new kinds of passing/receiving records Sunday. As a result, a score prediction seems unnecessary. But here’s one anyway:

Bengals 35, Jets 7

quincy wilson, jets

Dylan Price

The Jets host the Cincinnati Bengals this week in a game that assuredly will be spooky. Cincinnati is currently the top team in the AFC and have taken a big step forward in recent weeks. Joe Burrow looks exceptional and Ja’Marr Chase is playing at an unbelievably high level. Trey Hendrickson and the Bengals’ pass rush is efficient and effective. Simply put, this resurgent team is a well-rounded unit. How far the Bengals go from here, nobody can project, but Zac Taylor has undoubtedly turned this team around this year.

The Jets are trending downward and fast. Mike White makes his first career NFL start Sunday and the odds are stacked against him. He didn’t play well coming in on Sunday in relief and a good game from him would be surprising. New York’s secondary faces a receiving corps that can come at them from all angles, and if the pass rush doesn’t assert itself early and often, Burrow will slice them up all day.

I don’t foresee this being a good game for the Jets, so look for an early exit if you’re going to the game Sunday. You might have time to head home and enjoy the Halloween festivities rather than watch the horror movie on turf.

Bengals 42, Jets 10

New York Giants
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Chicago Bears: Limiting Joe Burrow a goal for Bilal Nichols

joe burrow, bengals

When the Chicago Bears welcome the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field, the Bears front seven will be tasked with stopping Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Less than a year after tearing his ACL, Burrow has rebounded, including a solid showing against the Minnesota Vikings in week 1, where the 24-year old quarterback tossed two touchdowns, 261 passing yards while posting a completion percentage of 74.1 percent.

“Yeah I feel like he’s a lot more athletic than he may look,” Nichols said via the Bears official YouTube Channel. “You know he has the ability to you know make great throws, smart guy, and he also has the ability to get out the pocket if you let him so you know we just gotta contain him and keep him in there and do everything we can to affect him.”

Cincinnati’s offense starts and ends with Burrow. Containing an ascending quarterback who’s playing with confidence will be key for Sean Desai and the rest of the defense, which struggled to get after the quarterback in week 1, a game that included multiple miscommunications within the Bears secondary, which led to big plays.

Burrow was also the driving force behind the Bengals explosive plays in week 1, hitting wider receiver Ja’Marr Chase in stride for a 50-yard touchdown pass. Showing some single-high safety looks that eventually translate into two-deep safety looks can also benefit the Bears defense, as Desai will look to continue sending exotic blitzes in Burrow’s direction, hoping to cause some confusion.

“That’s why you have 17 opportunities, just to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” Nichols said. “And you just keep getting better and better as a group.”

For a Bears defense that’s hoping for a major bounceback, limiting Burrow starts with guys like Nichols but continues with players like Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith, Eddie Goldman, and many more.

 

New York Jets 2021 opponent report: Cincinnati Bengals

joe burrow, bengals

Star-crossed franchises do battle on Halloween, as the New York Jets welcome Joe Burrow and the Bengals to East Rutherford.

The Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals
The Date: Week 7 (Sunday, October 31), 1 p.m. ET, CBS (@ NYJ)
The Series: Jets lead 17-10 (last meeting: 2019, 22-6 CIN)

The New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals are living up to their respective reputations as two of the NFL’s scariest franchises in the modern standings. Entering the 2021 season, the teams are the owners of the longest playoff droughts in football. New York has a sizable margin at ten years, while the Bengals are at five seasons alongside the Cardinals and Broncos. Cincinnati is also nursing the longest active streaks between conference title game appearances (32 years) and playoff victories (30).

It’s thus only appropriate that these doomed squads go head-to-head on Halloween.

If anything, these franchises whose respective timelines have been dominated with tricks appear to have a pair of treats working with them under center. Cincinnati is set to welcome back Joe Burrow, the top pick of the virtual draft in 2020, while the Jets are set to counter with Zach Wilson, the second overall pick from the most recent selections.

The Skinny On the Bengals

The Bengals’ rebuild has entered the stage where they’re eradicating the remnants of the closest thing Queen City has had to professional football glory days since a rare Super Bowl appearance a majority of their fanbase has only seen on YouTube.

Andy Dalton, Andrew Whitworth, Rey Maulaga, and Domata Peko had already vanished. More Cincinnati jerseys became outdated this offseason, as the team bid farewell to Geno Atkins, A.J. Green, Gio Bernard, and Carlos Dunlap. Only tight C.J. Uzomah is left over from the Bengals’ last playoff trip, 2016’s meltdown at Paul Brown (Stadium).

The operation is being overseen by head coach Zac Taylor, who is entering the all-important third year at the helm. Cincinnati is a historically patient franchise: Taylor is only the 10th man to wear the headset for the franchise in their five-plus decades and his predecessor lasted 16 years in the spot without a single playoff victory.

Cincinnati’s fortunes were expected to be reversed by the arrival of Burrow. The standings left much to be desired…the Bengals won twice in Burrow’s ten starts…but reached heights unscaled by not only Cincinnati quarterbacks but legends of the entire league. Burrow became the first NFL freshman to throw for 300 yards in three consecutive games as well as the first to tally 400 passing yards, three passing scores, and a rushing six-pointer in a single contest.

This being the Bengals, however, the good times weren’t made to last. Burrow suffered a devastating injury during a November loss in Washington and was forced into an extensive rehab. Time will tell if Burrow returns to his dominant form that earned him the Heisman and a national title at LSU. But he found ways to turn his rehab process into a building block for his potentially game-changing career. The procedure, he believes, afforded him a chance to fix some of the flaws that perhaps hid beneath the glitz and glamour of his football career to date.

“With my knee, it felt the same. But I tweak my throwing motion every offseason and tweak my base. It was actually kind of beneficial for me, because I really started from the beginning and was able to refine some things that needed refining,” Burrow told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer about his offseason. “I’d like to be more explosive. And I think I was really good in quick-game situations. On fourth down, we were really good. Empty, we were really good. But we need to be more explosive with play-action passes. All of our downfield passing needs to improve.”

In addition to losing Burrow, the Bengals also lost top rusher Joe Mixon to a foot injury. The next generation of Cincinnati weaponry has presented itself through Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, who united for 1,749 yards and 10 scores last season.

What’s New In Cincinnati? 

In addition to the high-profile arrival of receiver Ja’Marr Chase (chosen fifth in April), the Bengals had to spend their offseason accounting for the loss of several defensive starters, including pressure artist and Jet-to-be Carl Lawson…who, alas, will not partake in the reunion with Cincinnati due to injury.

Cincinnati signed Trey Hendrickson after a breakthrough season in New Orleans in the hopes of replacing Lawson’s pressure production. A revamped secondary welcomes depth options Ricardo Allen, Eli Apple, Chidobe Awuzie, and Mike Hilton, while Trae Waynes is a de facto newcomer after a pectoral injury cost him the entire 2020 season.

The Bengals’ revamped top defense looked good in the “take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt” summer sessions, allowing no points in two contests. Hendrickson was enthused by what he learned from defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, who prides versatility in his front seven.

“It’s looking very unique of anything I’ve ever played before,” Hendrickson said of the defense to Ben Baby of ESPN after his first practices with the team in June. “I think it’s playing to both the defense and what I can bring to the table.”

How to Beat Them

-Make Them Pray for Penei

One of the most shocking twists of the draft was the Bengals’ curious decision to leave accomplished Oregon blocker Penei Sewell on the board in favor of Chase, one of Burrow’s favorite targets during the Tigers’ national championship run.

There’s no doubt that Chase has the potential to be an elite, big-play talent and that his victorious chemistry with Burrow could come up big as the team tries to drag back to mere football relevancy. But the Bengals learned the hard way that they need to find further protection for Burrow. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to pounce (pun intended) on the draft’s most powerful blocker, especially with one with experience on the blindside? Even when taking his season-ending injury into account, Burrow was still tied for ninth in sacks allowed.

The Bengals partly made up for passing on Sewell with the signing of Riley Reiff (who replaces the ineffective former Giant Bobby Hart) but the left side is guarded by tackle Jonah Williams and guard Quinton Spain. Williams is a first-round pick from 2019 that has had trouble staying healthy while Spain takes on larger duties after losing a competition against Cody Ford and Brian Winters in Buffalo.

The Jets won’t have the services of Lawson but it’s going to be crucial to attack Burrow’s blindside and make the Bengals regret their fateful decision. It’ll be a particularly big chance for those lining up on the outside, ready to attack the already vulnerable Bengal backfield.

carl lawson, new york jets

-Do It For Carl

One of the Lawson-centric metrics Jets fans are probably sick of…or can’t get enough of…seeing is the fact that Lawson was one of only 11 defenders to reach double-figures (10.5) in the “Sacks Created” advanced category. That number becomes downright jaw-dropping when a look at the defensive rankings reveals that the Bengals earned a mere 17 sacks last season…the worst output in the league.

There would be, perhaps, no better tribute to Lawson than to make the Bengals realize just how much they miss Lawson. That’ll come down to the offensive line working against Cincinnati’s adjusted pass rush. The Bengals also drafted Texas’ Joseph Ossai in the third round (29 tackles over the last two seasons), but he’s starting the season on injured reserve and could be out the whole year. Much like the Bengals will look to take advantage of the Jets’ fledgling, developing secondary, the Jets must take advantage of a Queen City pass rush searching for clarity and momentum.

If anyone knows just how deadly a Cincinnati pass rush attack can be. In their last get-together in November 2019…when the Jets fell to an 0-11 Bengals squad…Sam Darnold was sacked four times and knocked down nine more: six times alone by Dunlap and one further time by Lawson himself. The Bengals’ visit with a new quarterback to protect is a big chance to show how far they’ve come.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Drafting Zach Wilson goes beyond talent

zach wilson, new york jets

Just a few days ago, the world saw BYU QB Zach Wilson produce one of the most memorable pro days in the past decade. Wilson caught the eye of so many that he’s viewed as a virtual lock to the New York Jets. Wilson’s performance may have booked him a ticket to MetLife for some, but others were less than enthused about his performance in shorts and drew comparisons to Sam Darnold’s past performances. The reality is that although Wilson is unproven, sometimes it’s better to take a shot at contention than aspire to toil in mediocrity. That shot is trading Sam Darnold and selecting Zach Wilson.

The case for trading Darnold goes beyond just the bad outweighing the good; since the day Darnold came out of USC, there has always been concern about his turnovers and decision making.

In two seasons as the quarterback for the Trojans, Darnold had 57 TDs to 22 INTs. Darnold also had a completion percentage of 64.9% in college, which is above average, but not a number that jumps off the page. For comparison, Zach Wilson had 56 TDs to 15 INTs. Not only that, but his completion percentage was over 3% greater than Darnold.

The eye-opening season that vaulted Wilson above Darnold in these categories was last season. After spending his offseason with John Beck, Wilson saw a jump from around a 64% completion percentage in his first two seasons to 73.5% last season. He also saw his interceptions drop from 9 in the season before to 3. Not to mention his pass attempts went up by over 25, his yards per attempt went up by nearly 4 yards and his touchdowns went up by an astronomical 22 touchdowns. Wilson refined his game and had a jump on par with that of Joe Burrow. Wilson’s decision-making is evidently better than Darnold’s was at this point, and there is an argument to be made Wilson has grossly exceeded where Darnold was when he came out of college.

The problem for Darnold is that his biggest issue was never talent, everyone knows he is talented. Darnold needed to see a jump in key categories like completion percentage and his touchdown to interception ratio, and it’s just not there. Darnold had a completion percentage of 59.8% throughout his three seasons to this point, along with a touchdown to interception ratio of 45 to 39. His touchdowns barely outweigh his interceptions, and his completion percentage ranked below nearly every quarterback who started a game last season. Darnold lacks confidence, and that stems from a lack of development. He doesn’t trust himself, and when he does, he tries to overcompensate with poor decisions.

It has been beaten to death how bad of a supporting cast he had, and that is true. I legitimately cannot think of a worse offensive line or wide receiver room than the Jets trotted out last season. Not to mention the utter incompetence of head coach. Darnold has not had help, and he has not seen any legitimate progression to this point. Sam Darnold is capable of making throws like Zach Wilson, and he has proven it, but Darnold has not developed, and with a new head coach, new offense, and a new future for the Jets, it may be best for parties to separate. It’s an unfortunate reality that, once again, a Jets quarterback has not worked out, but Darnold has not developed enough to earn the keys to the kingdom, and Wilson at least gives the Jets a chance to start fresh and the front office personnel a chance to take their guy.

New York Jets: Breaking down 3 confirmed head coaching candidates (part 3)

New York Jets, Joe Brady

With the New York Jets now preparing for their second batch of interviews where they will condense the field to bring them into Florham Park. With that said, I broke down the Jets three defensive coordinator candidates, three offensive coordinator candidates, and now today is the mixed bag group. A former head coach, a rising secondary coach, and a young offensive coordinator drawing comps to Sean McVay.

Marvin Lewis (Former Bengals Head Coach)

Marvin Lewis began working as a graduate assistant and then later a linebacker’s coach for Idaho State. From there he parlayed his success there into gigs at Long Beach State, University of New Mexico and University of Pittsburgh. He had considerable success and within just eight years he received enough attention as a linebackers coach that he was brought up to the pro ranks. While at his first stop, the Steelers, he worked as a linebackers coach for three years. Then, Lewis received his shot with the Ravens as a defensive coordinator for five years, winning a Super Bowl during that time, before joining the Football Team in the same role for a season.

Despite his background, from 2003-2018, Marvin Lewis is best known for his resurrection of the Cincinnati Bengals franchise. In his 15 years he led the team to the playoffs seven times with a record of 131-122-3 but an 0-7 playoff record. Lewis was undoubtedly a capable and competent leader, but he failed to close when it mattered most on the biggest stage. The losses on the biggest stage ultimately led to the team, letting him go. Lewis, at 62 years old, is still trying to get back to coaching in the pros as he has been helping former Jets coach Herm Edwards in Arizona State, first as a consultant and now as a co-defensive coordinator.

Looking forward, Lewis is a leader and has proven that in his career. One has to wonder if maybe the time off benefited him by giving him time to reevaluate. I think Lewis has a shot of getting a hire in this cycle for a couple of reasons. The first being that he has proven capabilities of turning around a franchise. The other is that his years of connections give him a shot of assembling a talented staff. If a team is looking to rebuild and they want someone to see it through, Lewis is a strong candidate. If you want someone to take your team to that next step though, Lewis has not proven he can do that. The other flaw is his age, and how much longer he even wants to coach, this continues to further my belief that he is a transitional coaching candidate.

Joe Brady (Panthers Offensive Coordinator)

Joe Brady is someone I have highlighted in great lengths during this coaching search and it’s lead up. Brady is known as the 31-year-old offensive wiz kid from Carolina. The former college wide receiver began his coaching career at his alma mater, Willian & Marry. After rising to a linebackers coach position there, Brady received a shot to be a graduate assistant at Penn State. He then received a massive opportunity to receive the tutelage of Sean Payton as an offensive assistant for the New Orleans Saints where he was able to learn first hand how to conduct the offense. Then, he made a decision that Sean Payton at the time told him was a massive mistake, he bolted from New Orleans to head to nearby LSU as the passing game coordinator and receiver’s coach. That decision was not a mistake, but rather, the reason he is a candidate for a head coaching gig.

At LSU, en route to a national championship, Brady architected one of the top offenses in college football history. He took Joe Burrow and brought him from an average college quarterback that likely would be a late round draft pick to, a Heisman campaign, where he had a 76.3 completion percentage and produced a line of 5,671 yds, 60 TDs, and 6 INTs. Burrow took a massive leap and became the first overall selection in the draft. Brady also allowed guys like JaMarr Chase and Justin Jefferson to go from household names to one being a top 15 prospect in this draft class, Chase and one being labeled by some as the next star receiver in the NFL, in Jefferson. Now, since leaving LSU, the team and specifically offense was a shell of themselves and Brady’s exit has been widely attributed to why.

Joe Brady left LSU and took the jump to Carolina to coach under Matt Rhule as his offensive coordinator. The offense was not the most spectacular, but if you look at the jump that players took under his guidance that is indicative of success. Mike Davis filled in masterfully for Christian McCaffery being able to jump into his role to an extent and keep the train moving. Guys like Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson and Ian Thomas all took massive leaps and proved themselves as legitimate offensive weapons under Joe Brady as well. Brady was able to adapt consistently, instilling a game plan for former XFL star PJ Walker’s first career start on Thursday Night Football that played off his strengths.

Brady has proven to be moldable, adaptable and innovative in his brief but impressive coaching career. He has drawn comparisons to Sean McVay leading many to think he is the next star coach. I have qualms with how he would build a staff based on his minimal coaching experience and I wonder about his leadership based on his youth. With that said though, it sounds like if Terry Fontenot, a New Orleans Saints executive, lands the Atlanta Falcons general manager position, Brady will likely follow him. The Jets were reportedly impressed by him and he was in the select few of candidates they believe could get a second interview. Ultimately, it sounds as though Atlanta is the likeliest home though.

Aaron Glenn (Saints Secondary Coach)

Aaron Glenn is an intriguing coaching candidate. The former New York Jets defensive back is a former All American and has been inducted into the Texas A&M sports hall of fame before being drafted by Gang green with the 12th selection in the 1994 draft. Glenn played for the organization for seven years before being taken by the Houston Texans in the expansion draft. He then played for the Texans, Cowboys, Jaguars and Saints before retiring in 2008. He then spent some time in various capacities, including time away from the game, before taking a general manager position with the Houston Stallions of the Lonestar Football League. He spent a year there before joining the Jets as a scout. Then, Glenn began his coaching career.

The former pro bowler received an opportunity to work as the assistant defensive backs coach for two seasons in Cleveland. The Browns provided him a shot at coaching and launched his career. The Saints then brought Glenn on in the 2016 season as a defensive backs coach, and he’s done wonders for the secondary in his time there. Glenn has been able to elevate the level of play of guys like Marcus Williams and Ken Crawley among others. Glenn has been able to be a hands on teacher and he’s learned from a great in Bill Parcells.

Glenn is a leader and a well-connected coach. His former playing days give him extensive ties for a potential staff. However, he has minimal coaching experience running a system or implementing a scheme. Glenn deserves defensive coordinator looks, but the premise of hiring Glenn before he even gets to control a side of the football does not instill me with the most confidence. He is a smart football mind, making him a dark horse for the job. However, if the Jets go with a young offensive mind, hiring Glenn as a DC would be a home run.

New York Jets Head Coaching Candidates: Joe Brady

New York Jets, Joe Brady

With the New York Jets now sitting at an 0-11 record with only five games to go, it is apparent the team needs a change of pace. That is likely to come in the form of a. Full-scale rebuild, starting with the coaching staff. As the team will likely move quickly with their coaching search, I decided to take an individual deep dive into some of the guys who could lead the New York Jets into the next era. This begins with Carolina Panthers Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady.

Who is Joe Brady?

Joe Brady was born in 1989 in Miami Lakes, Florida. Brady played wide receiver in high school and earned an opportunity to play College Football at Willam & Mary. After a college playing career there, Brady begins his coaching career as a Linebackers coach before becoming a grad assistant at Penn State. Then, Brady got an opportunity of a lifetime to serve under Sean Payton as an Offensive Assistant. Payton saw a lot of potential with Brady, but when he took a gamble on heading to the college level under coach Ed Orgeron at LSU, Payton thought he was making a mistake.

Looking back, that chance Coach O took on Brady, and he took on a young and hungry LSU paid off immensely. When Coach O handed Brady the keys to the LSU offense, he revamped it and took it from the 38th ranked offense in the country to the 1st ranked offense in the country in just one season.

The offense was so explosive that they were able to roll over competition on the way to their National Championship. Along with that, he was crucial in the development of now Bengals starting quarterback Joe Burrow. In Burrow’s Heisman campaign, he had a 76.3 completion percentage that produced a line of 5,671 yds, 60 TDs, and 6 INTs. Not only was the passing attack spectacular, the rushing attack was spectacular. Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for 1,414 yards and 16 scores, which only led him to be a first-rounder.

While on the topic of talent, I would be remiss without mentioning all the NFL Draft picks that came from last year’s offense and have excelled at the next level. Arguably the top rookie QB, RB, and WR are all LSU products. Now, this begged the question of how would Brady translate to the NFL, and he has answered that with emphatic success.

Joe Brady in the NFL

When Matt Rhule, a guy the Jets were heavily interested in before Adam Gase jumped from the college ranks to Carolina, he brought rising star Joe Brady with him. Brady has not disappointed. Brady inherited an offense ranked 27th in all of football in 2019 and has brought them to the 7th best offense in the NFL in only 10 games. With 6 games to go along with the impending return of Christian McCaffery, that ranking can only improve.

With McCaffery out, though, the offense has still hummed along perfectly fine. Guys like Curtis Samuel and Mike Davis have stood out in a big way, along with an impressive season from former Jets receiver Robby Anderson. The offense is innovative and unique, and the success he received at LSU has absolutely translated seamlessly to the next level. With a talent group that isn’t even on par with what it could be, Brady has built a resume capable of being a head coach, and at 31 years old, he would be a fresh, innovative hire, but why the Jets?

Why would he be a good fit?

The Jets have tried everything in the past few years. Todd Bowles was a discipline heavy defensive coordinator who was supposed to carry over the hard work culture built under Rex Ryan. Bowles failed to get on the same page with the management and could not gain control over the locker room after a strong first season. Then the Jets hired Adam Gase. This was a hire that was not received well, but fans set out to give him the benefit of the doubt. He has been absolutely awful, and the coach who was supposed to bring a head coaching background has only brought incompetence.

Joe Brady would be the anti-Bowles/Gase hire. He is a fresh, innovative mind along the lines of Sean McVay and Kyle Shannahan and would immediately revitalize the franchise. Not only that, but with 98 million dollars in cap space, a renowned general manager in Joe Douglas, and a plethora of draft capital, the resources are there to build a competitive team that would work around Brady’s strengths. Not only that but pairing Trevor Lawerence and Joe Brady is the kind of tandem that excites everyone repping the Green and White.

Brady would be the best offensive-minded coach the Jets could grab, but is he a leader? Brady is 31 years old and inexperienced. If Brady can step up and show he is capable of being a leader in the interviews, he could be the easy favorite to be the coach. However, if he does not seem like a guy who could instill a winning culture in New York and mentor Trevor Lawerence, then maybe he is not the right hire. With that said, I firmly believe Brady deserves and should be the next head coach of the New York Jets.

New York Giants: Giants are road favorites against the Bengals

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have found themselves in a rare spot on this Monday morning – -they are road favorites against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Giants are five-point road favorites. This will be the first time since last season the Giants will be favorites heading into an away game. The team last season was the Washington Football Team in week 16, and they were one-point favorites.

Why are the Giants the favorites?

The New York Giants have emerged as favorites due to several reasons. Every Giants loss except for one has been by 10-points or fewer, and coming off a rest-week, they should be in a great position to emerge victorious in week 12.

Big Blue is gaining a few players back that were currently on the COVID-19 list, punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Casey Kreiter. The Giants are also gaining their second-round draft pick in Xavier McKinney. Oshane Ximines is coming back from injury as well. The Giants are healthy and now gaining a few big pieces back to the defense that has played pretty well as of late.

Bad news for the Cincinnati Bengals this morning, their star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow has torn his ACL and will be out for the rest of the season. If that is not enough, the Bengals will also not have their star running back, Joe Mixon that was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury.

When Burrow went down with an injury, the backup Ryan Finley came in and tried to win for Burrow. In the nicest way possible, Finley did not look impressive at all. Washington dominated Finley when he stepped in at quarterback.

For all you gamblers!

According to BetMGM, the Giants are early favorites. The Giants are five-point favorites against the Bengals. From what it seems like, the spread is only going to go up. The over/under opened at 42.5 points. From what I have heard, everyone is going to hammer the under. The money line is as follows, the Giants -233 and the Bengals +190.

From what it seems like the Giants are going to win by more than five points. If I were a bettor going to bet on this game, which I am, I would hammer the under and take the Giants as five-point favorites early before the spread keeps going up and up.

NFL Draft Top 5 QB Rankings

New York Giants, Patrick Queen

With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, over the next few days, I plan on breaking down the best and brightest talents in this year’s class. The QB position has a lot of name value at the top of the class, but with concerns for each guy, who is the best in the class!

1. Joe Burrow LSU

Pro Comparison: Tony Romo

Joe Burrow is the Heisman winning perineal number one selection. Burrow is a talented, charismatic, franchise cornerstone. Burrow put up absolute video game numbers last season with 60 touchdowns and only 6 INTs. Burrow is destined to lead the Bengals, however, the Ohio kid will have his hands full. The stigma around the Bengals, weather and the young unproven coach could all play a part in Burrow’s downfall. Burrow needs to stay humble and stay grounded, and not let mistakes dwell on him. His injury at Ohio State led him to LSU. He played poorly at first. Then, Joe Brady, his hard work and Ed Orgeron led Burrow here. Now, all he’s going to have is his work ethic at the next level. If Burrow can stay grounded, he’s going to be a good Quarterback, if not there is just potential. Tony Romo always had an exciting feel, just like Burrow.

2. Tua Tagovialoa Alabama

Pro Comparison: Russell Wilson

Tua is the opposite of Burrow. He is charismatic and incredibly talented, but the comparisons end there. Tua gained notoriety from his clutch championship debut. He’s a leader and a game-changing talent. Tua is a star. I admittedly like Tua better than Burrow. However, Burrow is the much safer pick. Tua has a very sketchy injury history with his ankle and knee problems. Tua is a beast and has proven himself against elite SEC talent, but injuries and his mobile skill set may not translate to the next level as well as Burrow’s skill set. Russell Wilson is a leader, and mobile, Tua is both of those things, making them an easy comp.

3. Justin Herbert Oregon

Pro Comparison: Blaine Gabbert

Herbert is the most pro-ready of these three guys. Burrow is going to have a big adjustment period, Tua has injury questions and transition questions as well. Herbert is a clean-cut, comfortable prospect. Herbert is an excellent pocket passer, with a unique skillset and he’s an absolute gunslinger. His throws have great velocity. He also throws one of the cleanest and balls in this class and he impressed me with his mid-range accuracy. Herbert is a good QB, in the right spot, he could be a very good starter. The Blaine Gabbert comparison seems fair to me. He’s a safe prospect, who could be a great backup if all else fails, but if with the right coaches to bring along his development, it could be much better than Gabbert.

4. Jordan Love Utah State

Pro Comparison: Josh Allen

Love is incredibly intriguing. He’s got an absolute cannon for an arm. He had a very good season a year ago, but last season was very average. His Sophmore year, he had 32 touchdowns, last year he had 20. The talent drops off is to blame, because Love had no true viable weapons. Love is a small school prospect with question marks just like Josh Allen was, he’s got a great deep ball and is very mobile. Love is a good QB, he has a lot of potentials and if all goes well, he could be the best in the class, if he struggles, he’ll be a forgotten prospect.

5. Jalen Hurts Oklahoma

Pro Comparison: Dak Prescott

Hurts is a very solid QB prospect. He needs at least a year of development before taking over as a starter. However, he could develop into something special in the right system. Hurts is a leader with a team-first attitude. Hurts can kill you with his legs and his arm. The fact Tagovailoa took his job, and he struggled at times at both Bama and Oklahoma, is worrisome. In the ideal system, Hurts could be the next Dak Prescott. He can be a gem on Day 2, or a solid backup like RG3 someday.

Honorable Mention: Anthony Gordon

To clarify, Gordon is not my number six guy, that would go to Eason or Fromm. Anthony Gordon deserves recognition and has shot up my draft board. He’s a developmental prospect entirely. He impressed in Mike Leach’s Air Raif offense and he could be a suitable backup at the next level. Where he shined and deserved a mention is because I think he’s a good leader who had to fill in, in a tough situation after the tragic passing of Tyler Hilinski, and he stepped up and impressed. That’s a leader and a guy who deserves a mention.

The New York Jets and Giants are embarking on a virtual NFL Draft experience in 2020

New York Jets

The NFL is preparing to embark on a virtual representation of the Draft, and it’s going to be a wild experience. Especially for the New York Jets and Giants!

The 2020 NFL draft will be different than any other draft for the New York Jets and Giants and the NFL. Roger Goodell won’t be shaking Joe Burrow’s hand and taking a picture as he holds up the Bengals jersey. There won’t be a war room filled with GMs, scouts, and coaches; instead, Joe Douglas and Dave Gettleman will likely be on Zoom with their staff. This is a drastic change, but with the current state of the world, it’s not the least bit surprising.

The NFL Trudges On

League personnel and many NFL analysts believe the decision to go forward with the draft is a heavily controversial one. Adam Schefter even said on ESPN that, “They are determined to put this on while there is carnage in the streets.” The league is determined to move forward and adapt to the continually changing conditions of our world and put on the draft. Now this year’s draft is less spectacle and more Fantasy Football. Let’s just hope nobody auto picks their draft.

In all seriousness, the NFL is providing a distraction for the country in these wild times, but at what cost? The players don’t get to celebrate with the commissioner and enjoy the recognition they’ve fought for so long to earn. The players can’t even enjoy the moment with extended family without disobeying CDC guidelines. The players are being deprived of the joy associated with achieving their childhood dreams of being drafted. It leads many to wonder if there would be more joy associated with the draft had it been postponed.

In the end, there’s going to be a draft. There’s going to be trades and the usual wall to wall coverage. The social aspect of the draft and the festival-like atmosphere that was prominent in Nashville last year is gone. Instead, the world will watch from home as Joe Burrow gets the call to achieve his NFL dreams from home, along with every other prospect as they celebrate while following CDC guidelines.