The Bengals picked up their first win of the 2022 season with a decisive 27-12 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday. This was a wire-to-wire victory that was never really in doubt. The Bengals opened the game with a touchdown and then never let the Jets take the lead. This was the perfect “get right” game for them before some of their harder tests in the coming weeks.
Here are five takeaways from the victory.
Trey Hendrickson Has A Career Day
The most impactful story for me is what Trey Hendrickson was able to do. He sacked Joe Flacco three times, forced a pair of fumbles, and pressured Flacco a few more times. He looked like the Hendrickson we got used to seeing last season.
The 2.5 sacks from Hendrickson are a personal best for him. He's had multiple games with two sacks, but this was the first time he was able to bring down the quarterback three times in one game. This has a strong case as the best game that Hendrickson played as a Bengal. He did all of this on fewer snaps as well.
The Bengals seemed to rotate their defensive line more in this game and Hendrickson ended up with 46 snaps (59% of snaps) which is down from the 50+ and 85-90% of snaps he was playing in the first two games. He looked like he would come in fresh and had a huge impact on the game.
Burrow Is Back
After two shaky performances, the Bengals signal caller appears as if he is back to his normal self. This game was a good performance from him where he both took what the defense gave him, but also attacked down the field.
Joe Burrow finished the game with 275 yards and three touchdowns while throwing no interceptions. He also added a blistering 0.38 EPA/play and a total EPA of 16.4. These are by far his largest numbers when it comes to advanced statistics on the season.
By the eye test he looked great as well. He had deadly precision down the field to give his wide receivers a chance at the ball. Most notably, Tee Higgins, had quite the game with a few well thrown 50/50 balls for him. Lastly, his pocket presence seemed much better yesterday than it did at any other point in the season. He was able to avoid sacks, extend plays, and trusted his offensive line. All in all this was a promising performance for the Bengals quarterback.
Pass Protection Does Enough
The Bengals only allowed two sacks on Sunday, which is a stark contrast to the 13 that they let up in the first two games. Both sacks were drive killers with one on third down and the other creating a third and very long for the offense, but with that only happening twice it was manageable. Still, I thought the offensive line looked okay in pass protection on one viewing. The Bengals are now 10-2 with Burrow when he takes two or less sacks.
The offensive line deserves some credit as they didn’t allow him to get absolutely clobbered, but Burrow himself deserves some of the credit as well. He was on time, trusted his protection, and escaped the pocket when necessary The Bengals are going to need to keep up this performance when the Dolphins come to town.
Winning Without Chase
Ja’Marr Chase had an off day with a couple drops, a bad job tracking the ball on the left sideline, and a fumble. The Bengals were able to win despite that which now makes them 4-6 in games where Chase has less than 60 yards. Every team can win when everything goes right, but the Bengals today showed that they can pull out a dominant victory despite their best player having an off day. Both Higgins and Tyler Boyd stepped up and did more than enough. This is why the Bengals have built such a talented wide receiver room. Also, I don’t expect Chase to have back to back poor performances and he should bounce back next week.
Chidobe Awuzie Locks Them Down
Chidobe Awuzie had a great game in coverage. He was tested, but broke up three passes and was in great position throughout the day. He seemed to be in perfect position against the Jets receivers on every ball thrown his way. Overall, a fantastic performance from the Bengals top cornerback
After a stellar 2021 season, it seems as if Awuzie may be on the path to a similar 2022. The Jets wide receiver group is a very talented unit and Awuzie more than held his own against them. The test becomes critical on Thursday against one of the best wide receiver rooms in the entire NFL.
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