Trenches, especially pass rush, key in Week 3 for Jets in hopes of sending Bengals to 0-3

The game of football starts and ends in the trenches, right? Well, at least the big boys think so. They do all the work and get almost none of the credit. But if the Jets want to send the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals to an 0-3 start, they’ll need both sides of the line to come up big, especially on defense.

The Jets have talked about pass rush all week. They talked about how they need it to improve and want to see more of it. New York is averaging 1.5 sacks per game this season. That is tied for 23rd in the league through two weeks. Only five teams are averaging less, one of them happens to be New York’s opponent this week, the Bengals, who have just two sacks total this season. The others averaging less are the Dolphins, Saints, Raiders and Cardinals.

But if there’s a week for the Jets to boost that sack total, it’s this week. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has already been sacked 13 times this season (six against Pittsburgh, seven against Dallas). While some of the blame can be put on the offensive line, some of the blame also has to be put on Burrow. He has a tendency thus far to hold on to the ball a bit too long and is almost inviting the sacks himself. According to Pro Football Focus, eight of the 13 sacks have been charged to the offensive line. That should be music to the ears of the Jets’ defensive line, especially former Bengal Carl Lawson.

Ben Solak of The Ringer wrote a great article about not just Burrow taking sacks, but the disconnect in the Bengals.

Not only are the Bengals dealing with offensive line issues on the field, but their starting right tackle, La’el Collins, is perhaps dealing with a setback from the back injury that kept him out for most of training camp. However, the Bengals and head coach Zac Taylor are optimistic Collins will play Sunday.

Either way, the Jets have a chance to take advantage of an offensive line that is still coming together and has a rookie at left guard in Cordell Volson, a matchup that Quinnen Williams should be salivating over. PFF has charged Volson with two sacks allowed and seven total pressures. Only left tackle Jonah Williams (three sacks allowed, ten total pressures) has allowed more.

Williams only has a half-sack through two games but Sunday could be a big day for him in stopping the Bengals attack. It’s a good bet he’ll get at least one on Burrow.

On the flip side, the Bengals have struggled to get to the quarterback. As mentioned before, the Bengals have just two sacks so far, one each from B.J. Hill and Sam Hubbard. The Jets’ offensive line has struggled at times to keep Joe Flacco clean, allowing five sacks through two games. Max Mitchell has been charged with two sacks and one each for George Fant and Max Mitchell. But against Cincinnati, the Jets are facing a front line that hasn’t generated much pressure themselves. Hubbard and D.J. Reader each have seven pressures, per PFF. No other defensive lineman has more than three. In fact, no other Bengal has more than three.

If the Jets’ front four can get finally home and the offensive line figures out a way to clean up their act and keep Flacco upright, the Jets may very well find themselves above .500 for the first time under head coach Robert Saleh.

 

Story originally appeared on Jets Wire