For those of you who recall, a couple times early in the season I took the time to carefully review the games the Chargers played and write some comments based on what I saw. This week, I'll do the same thing for the Chargers' upcoming opponent, the New York Jets. Obviously I'm no professional, but I'll try to glean some insights about what the Jets are doing, and what the Chargers should look out for.First Quarter:
- Big opening kick-off return for the Bengals.
Laveranues Coles fumbled away the Bengals opening possession which was very promising. He also fumbled away one of Palmer's few relatively accurate throws.
- Very early, the Jets were limiting Sanchez's throws--nothing more than 10 yards past the LOS.
- Rex Ryan loves him some secondary blitzes. It was on one of them that Palmer found Coles for a 3rd down conversion.
- Another big blitz, another 3rd down conversion, this time a touchdown throw to Coles. The Bengals got away with a pick of Revis on this play, but still, the big blitz left single coverage on multiple WRs, and there's only one shutdown corner on that defense. Remember, if not for a fumble on the first drive of the game, it would be at least 10-0 Cincinnati right now.
- Greene has some moves.
- Everything Sanchez is doing is simple and low-risk: screens, bootlegs, come-backs.
- I wonder if Feely will punt again this week.
- The Jets are blitzing nearly every down so far. Again, Palmer finds an outlet receiver on a blitz to set up 3rd and short.
- The ensuing 3rd down attempt, the Jets actually only rush 5 instead of the 6-7 they had been. The result is an incompletion to Caldwell, which is knocked away by the corner, and the Bengals punt it away.
- The Jets will run no matter the down or distance. 1st and 10. 2nd and 12.
- Sanchez makes a pretty nice throw on the ensuing 3rd down, picking up a new set of downs on a good sideline throw to Cotchery.
- I'm not going to mention about what an idiot Marvis Lewis is (Damn, I mentioned it. Oh well.).
- The Bengals go 3-and-out on their first possession on three straight rushing plays.
- The fake-FB-dive-pitch-to-the-tailback play gets the Jets a TD. They've used this numerous times the last few games.
- Palmer is off-target somewhat, but Coles drops another catchable ball. This has really hurt the Bengals more than the Jets' defense, so far.
- On the next play Revis gets flagged for illegal contact, but it shouldn't have mattered because Palmer again overthrows a wide open Caldwell.
- Carson makes an accurate throw, and behold! A completion that picks up good yardage.
- And the Bengals commit their second false start penalty of the drive. They keep hurting themselves.
- The Jets run a stunt on third down, dropping a lineman into coverage and rushing a pair of linebackers. The Bengals pick it up pretty well. Fortunately for the Jets, Palmer feels pressure that isn't there, and unloads an inaccurate pass that gets picked off. The receiver, Chad Johnson, also deserves some blame because he stumbled, never got a clean release, and let Revis box him out and shield him from the ball.
- Sanchez does a good job converting a third down on a slant to Cotchery.
- Another bootleg-rollout throw to Keller, this time run all the way for a TD. The Jets really aren't taking any chances with Sanchez.
- The Jets aren't blitzing as much as they were in the first quarter. They are, however, keeping up with the exotic looks. This time they faked an overload blitz on a 3rd and 2, then dropped everyone back and only rushed 3. Palmer, who was jumpy all night, quickly abandoned the pocket when he didn't have to and ran for a first down.
- The Jets go back to the big blitz on the next 3rd down and get a strip-sack of Palmer. This time it was a delayed blitz, where the blocking back picked up Bart Scott which left an opening for the safety to come through unblocked and take down Palmer.
- The Jets take over at about their own 40 yard-line, and get stuffed on three straight running plays. It looks like they're splitting carries relatively evenly between Jones and Greene.
First Half Thoughts:
So far things are relatively even between the two teams. The Jets lead, but by one score. The difference has been the Bengals are making tons of mistakes, and the Jets aren't. Much of the Bengals' struggles are due to their own unforced errors--inaccurate throws, drops, penalties, coaching. The Jets blitzed a lot early, eased off somewhat through the 2nd quarter, then revved it back up to finish out the half. Sanchez was 7-10 for ~90 yards, most of that coming on YAC. Nearly all his throws are within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. New York was able to capitalize on Cincinnati's general ineptitude through turnovers and short fields, which they turned into two touchdowns.
- On their opening possession, the Jets stuck with their running formula. One wrinkle they threw in was putting a back under center, which the Bengals stuffed for a loss.
- The Jets aren't immune to mistakes themselves. They back themselves out of field goal range with successive penalties.
- The Jets have also shown a bit of a tendency to overpursue on running plays. More than once now, they've had Benson behind the line, let him cut back and bite of a significant chunk of yardage.
- You know how they say in baseball, when a hitter "isn't seeing the ball"? That's how Palmer looks right now. He's just not seeing the ball, and is consistently air-mailing open receivers.
- The Jets get screwed on a bogus PI call on Revis. If anything, Chad Johnson should have been flagged.
- Palmer is audibling out of pass plays now. Even he knows he can't throw worth a damn right now.
- More unforced errors for the Bengals. Caldwell drops a 3rd down pass that would have picked up a first. It wasn't a clean drop, and Sheppard was in fairly tight coverage, but still it was a pass Caldwell probably should have caught. Oh, and Graham misses the ensuing chip-shot field goal. Bungles.
- On the next play for the Jets, Sanchez makes a beautiful sideline throw, and Cotchery does an even better job catching it before falling out of bounds.
- The Jets bring another overload on 3rd down, and force an incompletion. Palmer just can't get anything done.
- Big TD run by Benson gets the Bengals back into the game, however briefly.
- Another big play on a bootleg throw to Dustin Keller.
- The Jets basically put the game out of reach with a field goal to make it a 2-score lead. The Bengals just have no ability to score quickly.
- The Bengals FINALLY make the Jets pay for a big blitz, with Palmer hitting Caldwell across the middle for about 12. Unfortunately, it's too little too late.
- And the game essentially ends on a fitting note--the Bengals miss a chip-shot field goal. Nothing else of note happens.
The Jets have a good defense, there's no denying it. But they were aided in large part by an inept Bengals team intent on beating itself. There's a difference between forced errors caused by the defense, and unforced errors caused by bumbling. The Bengals were guilty of the latter.
For the Chargers' part, they need to be ready for Rex Ryan's wacky blitz schemes. He'll overload, fake the overload, bring delayed blitzes, drop lineman into coverage and rush defensive backs. On offense, the Jets will probably continue to take very few chances with Sanchez. That means when he does throw, it's going to be short, high-percentage patterns with lots of play-action and rollouts. They can't let themselves be beaten by screens and throwbacks to the tight end.
If the Chargers play their game, use their advantages like they have all season, and don't commit dumb, unforced errors like they haven't all season, they'll win the game.