The Bengals were able to take control of Sunday’s game against the Jets with a pair of first half touchdowns. Let’s take a look at what happened on these plays.
First came Andy Dalton’s 17 yard pass to Tyler Boyd. On this play the Jets had a Tampa 2 defensive call. This is a cover two zone. Four linemen rush the passer. Four defenders play zone underneath, and two safeties are deep. The difference between this and a normal cover two is that the middle linebacker, Neville Hewitt is responsible for dropping and covering the seam in the middle of the field. This is the most vulnerable spot against most cover two defenses.
On a side note, the Jets ran this coverage quite a bit in Sunday’s game. I would guess this was done to protect the corners. This type of coverage does not give the cornerbacks much responsibility so it is easy for them to execute.
Boyd ran a skinny post on the play from the left side of the formation.
A lot of attention was paid to Marcus Maye after this touchdown, but I put more of the blame on James Burgess. I don’t think Burgess got enough depth when he dropped into his zone. He could have gone deeper to close the passing window from Dalton to Boyd, but he didn’t. He stopped, and the ball went over his attempt to knock it down.
I also have to give Dalton credit here for a great throw. Sometimes we forget there is an opponent trying to make plays. This touchdown doesn’t happen without great execution by the Bengals.
Now let’s move on to Joe Mixon’s five yard touchdown. Near the goal line, the Jets have guys loaded around the line of scrimmage. All eight defenders are responsible for a gap. Tarell Basham’s gap is where the run eventually goes.
This is a zone run by the Bengals. All blockers move laterally in the same direction at the snap. Zone runs sometimes creates their own running lanes. When the offensive line runs laterally, defenders need to follow. It can be easier to create a hole by having a defender either overrun or underrun his gap rather than driving somebody off the ball.
In this case, Basham gets sealed. Even though most of the gaps are clogged, there is an open running lane where Basham is responsible.
If you want to blame Maye in part for a touchdown on Sunday, this would be the place to look. He’s supposed to be the last line of defense on this play if anything breaks down. For some reason, he takes a false step to his left, which leaves himself out of position to help. Maybe he thought Mixon would break the run outside. Maybe he got distracted by Dalton faking that he still had the ball. Either way, this was not good.
Again, this is tremendous execution on offense. Mixon found a hole three gaps away from where the handoff was designed to go and made two cuts on a dime. The Bengals deserve credit.
The Jets also deserve blame for not executing.