Jessie Bates III bounces back from worst game of his career
Heading into the 2021 season, Jessie Bates III was nearly universally agreed upon by Bengals fans as an elite safety and one of the best players on the team. Twelve games into the Bengals’ regular season, and Bates is coming off of potentially the worst game in his pro career.
With a career-low Pro Football Focus grade of 29.3, Bates got absolutely lit up by the Chargers. Allowing a 100% completion percentage when targeted, including two throws that were completed for touchdowns, the fourth-year safety could not do anything to stop Justin Herbert and his weapons. His most notable low point of the game was getting absolutely Mossed by Jalen Guyton on a deep pass from Herbert.
However, despite his mixed bag of results in 2021, Bates is still one of the top safeties in the league. Eventually, the upcoming free agent is going to have a breakout game. I expect that game to come against Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers.
Garoppolo isn’t a terrible quarterback by any means, but he also should not strike fear into any defense. He is a league-average quarterback at best, and Bates and the Bengals defense are going to have to exploit him to keep their potentially-limited offense in the game.
In Week 13, the Bengals’ defense showed that they could come up with turnovers in big moments. While it ultimately proved futile, Lou Anarumo’s defense had multiple big turnovers to help the Bengals’ short-lived comeback against the Chargers. Against Garoppolo and the 49ers in Week 14, I expect Bates to bounce back and lead the charge in creating turnovers, coming up with not one, but two interceptions.