Bengals vs Jets: Jessie Bates and other players who need to step up
The Cincinnati Bengals have their backs against the wall, with the possibility of starting 0-3. The Bengals need to find a way to get a win in MetLife and start trending upwards. Cincinnati has struggled to get off to fast starts, the offensive line has played below average, and the defense and offense cannot seem to correlate simultaneously.
Joe Burrow has been sacked 13 times, leading the NFL, and is currently on pace to get sacked well over 100 times. The odds are that these numbers will even themselves out throughout the season, but it isn't a good sign. The Bengals have completely revamped their line and were expecting better performances from the get-go that they have not received.
With that being said the Bengals now have to find a way to win and here are three key players that need to have good performances for the Cincinnati Bengals to escape with a victory.
When the Bengals went all out and invested a great deal of money into La'el Collins, the expectation was that he would be the anchor of this line and potentially be looked at as the leader. Through two games he has struggled the most and he has faced two of the best pass rushers in football in Micah Parsons and T.J. Watt but ultimately that is why the Bengals brought him in -- To be the guy that blocks those top-tier pass rushers and holds his own.
Collins has a very good track record and has been one of the better tackles in the NFL over the last few seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, but he will need to perform better for the Bengals' offensive line to be successful. His role is vital, and he needs to be able to keep that right side of the line upright and win those one-on-one battles he has been losing. The optimism remains in his game. He is a very good player and should be one that gets himself on the right track sooner rather than later.
Collins has been battling a lingering back injury throughout the week and has not been spotted at practice the last two days for the Bengals so this is all assuming that he does indeed suit up on Sunday.
Jonah Williams was the best offensive lineman the Bengals had last season, but like Collins, Williams has struggled so far to find himself. When the Bengals spent a first-round draft pick on him, they anticipated a dominant tackle that can be in orange and black for a long time. Now, Williams has been good, but you could make the case that he has been underwhelming so far in his young Bengals career.
The tackle play has been the Bengals' biggest weakness on the offensive line so far. The guards and center haven't been great, but they have been much more consistent and on cue. A lot of Burrow's sacks are coming from around and along the edge from pass rushers beating Williams and Collins in one-on-one matchups.
Williams will need to start performing at a higher level. He debatably has the most crucial position on the football field for the Bengals offense. He is the left tackle and the guy who protects Joe Burrow's blind spot. That is a vital spot to play regarding the overall protection and communication of the line.
Jessie Bates has struggled since he has been back with the team and pretty much just seems a step behind when he is on the field. He is late on his reads and getting beat by recievers. Noah Brown broke loose on a touchdown for the Cowboys last week and was 2-3 steps ahead of Bates the entire route that he ran.
Bates is the leader of this defense and one of the leaders of the entire team. The team is playing at their best when he is playing at a high level. The Bengals need the best version of Jessie Bates week in and week out.
Bates has a current PFF grade of 59.1, below the average of where he should be and where he has been in the past. The Bengals' defense thrives when Bates is at his best, which is precisely why he needs to perform this Sunday for Cincinnati to come out of MetLife with a win.
Who else from this team needs to step up?