Week four of the NFL season is already upon us and this matchup for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Jacksonville Jaguars is an interesting one. It just so happens that both teams are decimated with injuries on defense at the exact positions that will allow their opponents’ struggling offenses to take advantage.
Let’s begin with the topic that Bengaldom has been up in arms over all week long; the Bengals’ secondary. The Bengals secondary has been weak, at best, all season as they are currently ranked 22nd overall in the NFL. To make matters worse, it looks at though Cincinnati will have four cornerbacks on the inactive list on Sunday (Leon Hall, Nate Clements, Jason Allen, Dre Kirkpatrick). This leaves the Bengals with Adam Pacman Jones and Terence Newman as their starters (both players signed one-year deals with the Bengals over the off-season).
To compensate for their losses, the Bengals brought back safety Chris Crocker who hasn’t played an NFL snap in over eight months after the Bengals wildcard loss to the Houston Texans last season. Crocker has the ability to play nickel corner as well as safety and has the experience as a player in this Bengals’ system to help get teammates lined up correctly. A lot of Bengals fans were not very excited to see Crocker back in stripes, but, for this week, he could be exactly what they need.
The Bengals’ secondary is up against a struggling Jacksonville offense and a very inconsistent Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert has a strong arm, but struggles with accuracy. His receivers do not help his cause as rookie receiver Justin Blackmon is a tremendous talent, but is a very sloppy route runner. That combination creates a formula that ends with a lot of footballs hitting the turf. If Gabbert is going to have any kind of a decent game in his short NFL career, it could be this week against a decimated Bengals secondary.
On offense, the Jaguars should have their starting linemen ready to go for this game which is particularly important for them. The Bengals lead the AFC in sacks with a total of 11 on the season. The return of Carlos Dunlap has opened the flood Gates for the Bengals’ defensive line as they are all excellent pass rushers. The Jags’ offensive line will need to be on point in this game because if Gabbert comes under pressure, his errant throws will become even more off-kilter which would nullify the effect of having a Bengals beat-up secondary on the field.