JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Each week this season I'm going to try to bring a statistical outlook to the Jaguars and their upcoming opponent. This week the Jaguars host the Bengals for the second year in a row.
The Bengals are 2-1 with the their sole loss coming against the Baltimore Ravens and their league-leading offense. Their two wins have come against rookie quarterbacks and they still managed to give up quite a few points in those games. As we hit the quarter mark of the season, let's look back at some Bengals numbers from last year and what they might mean.
Bengals 2011 Record: 9-7
Pythagorean Wins: 8.6
Offense DVOA: 17th
Defense DVOA: 17th
Turnover Differential: 0
Interesting to see that they finished 17th in the NFL in both offense and defense DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) in 2011. Even more interesting is that they finished 17th in both categories in 2010 as well. The Bengals have been one of the most consistent teams the last few seasons, although they have been consistently average.
Through the first 3 games this year the Bengals defense has been well below average. They rank 27th in total defense giving up 416 yards per contest, and are 30th in points giving up a whopping 34 points per game. Defensively they have been able to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks having registered 11 sacks so far. Defending the run is where they have been especially porous allowing 155 rushing yards per game. This is a surprising number for a team with a talented front seven. It will be interesting to see if the Bengals load the box to try and force the Jaguars to throw it deep to beat them.
Offensively the Bengals have had a hard time running the ball. They signed BenJarvis Green-Ellis from the New England Patriots in free agency and he has gotten proggressively worse each week. In week 1 he carried the ball 18 times for 91 yards and a score, in week 2 he carried the ball 21 times for 75 yards and in week 3 he carried the ball 17 times for 38 yards and a score while fumbling the ball for the first time in his career. Their passing attack has been much more proficient with 291 yards a game. The attack is lead by second year quarterback Andy Dalton and second year wide receiver A.J. Green. It would appear that the key to stopping this offense is keying in on Green but that isn't necessarily the case. The Bengals have gotten good production from three other receivers in their offense. Andrew Hawkins (12 receptions on 16 targets for 208 yards), Armon Binns (12 receptions on 13 targets for 157 yards) and Jermaine Gresham (12 receptions on 20 targets for 131yards) have 5 combined touchdowns. Green is clearly the number one target but the efficiency of these receivers (73% reception rate) brings a much more dangerous passing attack then came to town last year.
The Jaguars finally gave up a passing touchdown on a first quarter 40 yard strike from Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton. The Jaguars undeterred to show that it was a fluke to have none in the first two games allowed Luck to throw another to Mewelde Moore in the following quarter. The passing defense on the day gave up 313 yards with 0 sacks, but did have 1 interception. Third downs has increasingly become a problem. The Jaguars have let the oppsition convert 43% of their third down opportunities, and the defens has been getting progressively worse in this area (week 1 - 20%; week 2 - 47%; week 3 - 53%). One silver lining for the defense is they have been very stingy when it comes to points compared to the yards they have given up. They rank 16th in points giving up 23.3 per game. Getting Derek Cox back last week did help as the Colts gained more yards in the second half when Cox played less due to conditioning from being injured for the last 6 weeks. Also the the sooner that Daryl Smith can return the better as he would help in all phases of the defense.
Third downs are also a problem on offense for the Jaguars. They are 25th in the league converting just 33% of their opportunities. They were good against the Vikings (50%) but were awful against the Texans (0%) and Colts (31%). The Jaguars must improve in this area if they are going to be able to sustain drives. Speaking of sustaining drives the Jaguars average touchdown drive is 4.2 plays, 66 yards and 1:51 long. This tells me they need to hurry up the offense early. Instead of trying to control the clock early in the game they should run their offense like they do late in the game and establish a lead. Once they get a lead then start the clock killing drives. Blaine Gabbert has a strong arm maybe they should look to run more deep routes early instead the intermediate stuff. The Jaguars have scored 5 touchdowns this season. Finding a way early to challenge the offense may be the kick in the pants the offense needs to jump start it for the rest of the year.