Skip to main content

Quick Hits: Bengals Expect Copycat Browns; Higgins Tees Up First Big Day Of Season; Anarumo Applauds Hilton's Tackle

Captain Sam Hubbard (94) and linebacker Markus Bailey are looking to regroup.
Captain Sam Hubbard (94) and linebacker Markus Bailey are looking to regroup.

Head coach Zac Taylor wanted to know one thing about the 511 yards the Jets put up Sunday. How many were after contact when the Jets bowled the Bengals off Cloud Nine in the 34-31 loss?

"Too many," said defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo Monday.

Try 334 yards coming after the initial play, according to Pro Football Focus. A total of 280 yards after the catch, many off slithering screens to the running backs, and 54 yards after contact in the run game. The final count, PFF said, was 15 missed tackles. According to Jay Morrison of The Athletic, it's the most yards after catch allowed in the NFL since 2014.

And since the NFL is, as they say, a copycat league, expect in this Sunday's AFC North showdown, (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) at Paul Brown Stadium for the Browns to dare the Bengals to tackle them in space.

They like to like to run screens like the Jets did. According to PFF, Browns running back Demetric Felton (ninth) and Jarvis Landry (14th) are in the top 15 among receivers getting yards after the catch working in the slot and off screens. The other Browns running backs famously do their work after contact, where Nick Chubb has the fourth most yards and Kareem Hunt the 22nd.

"It's really, really imperative you set an edge on it and get it turned back inside and don't let it circle the defense, set it back to the pursuit," Anarumo said of the screens. "That's how you become a good (screen defense) team. We had a couple Sunday, where we had guys in the right spot we just didn't execute."

The Jets running backs were deadly in space. Michael Carter had 106 yards after the catch and Ty Johnson had 76. Anarumo knows his linebackers have to play much better. They gave up 217 YAC yards and PFF pegged middle linebacker Logan Wilson, one of their best players this year, with 136 of them and a team-high three missed tackles.

But no matter what the Jets did, when the Bengals play the Browns it has to come down to stopping the run. In Anarumo's four games against Cleveland, the Bengals have allowed 5.1 yards per rush and 129 yards per game.

"You talk about the run game first. Cleveland coming into the game was the No. 1 rushing team in the league. Chubb is one of the better backs in our league," Anarumo said. "He's a big, strong guy so we have to do a great job of wrapping up. That's one of the things we didn't do yesterday is we had some block tackling going on where we didn't use our arms to wrap up so we have to do a better job with that.

"That's just not linebackers, that's all of us at every position, first and foremost. And then diagnosing all of the different runs that they have. (They're) kind of Baltimoreish, not the style of run but the amount of runs that they give you. The guys will have to study all of that and be in position like they were a couple of weeks ago. And then when it comes to the pass game, just get tighter on these guys once they get into the throw game. I would say those are the two things the guys have to do."

Anarumo isn't panicking with his unit dropping from tenth to 17th in the NFL rankings.

"I just think we got a little bit deep in some of our drops and those guys are obviously good players and when you give good players too much space, you know, creates issues," Anarumo said. "We've done a good job (with) the linebackers and the safeties (on) the backs and tight ends and we just weren't as close as we normally been. And we got to make sure we do a better job of that going forward."

Neither is strong safety Vonn Bell, whose big season continued Sunday. PFF rated him the Bengals top defensive player after he registered his second forced fumble and first recovery of the season.

"Just keep on repping it. Keep on repping at practice, after practice," Bell said of the tackling. "Keep on taking the next step and just keep on working on your craft. That's all you can do. Keep on out there, just shoot your gun, play with high confidence, believe in what you're doing, believe that guys are going to rally to the ball so it won't be a missed tackle. So, we'll clean it up."

Bell approved of the unity message delivered at the joint appearance of fellow captains Jessie Bates III, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon at Sunday's postgame podium.

"Very important. We're all as one. It's a team sport, offense, defense, special teams so we're all in and there's no pointing fingers at anybody because we are all in this together, coaching staff too, " Bell said. "We've got to execute the game plan the right way, and X-Y-Z and so forth, so we've got the right men in this locker room that do that."

TAYLOR ON THE TIP: When they got the ball with 4:36 left and up five points, Taylor wanted to stay aggressive and not switch to the four-minute drill relying heavily on the run. Four seconds later the Jets had the ball at the Bengals 14 and were a minute away from scoring the winner after quarterback Joe Burrow's screen pass was tipped and picked by tackle Shaq Lawson.

But Taylor says it just wasn't time to give up on attacking.

"Four-minute mode you're handing the ball off three times and then potentially punting it back to them," Taylor said, "We still wanted to be relatively aggressive with our approach. We felt like we had moved the ball well, particularly in the second, third and fourth quarter and we wanted to continue to try to do that and ideally end either with a touchdown there and really put it away or end the ball with our possession once we cross the 50, start bleeding the clock more."

He also said if Lawson didn't tip the ball, wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase may have taken the screen at least 30 yards to the 50.

FULL COVERAGE: For the first time this season, Chase didn't have a catch longer than 34 yards. In fact he had just 32 yards on three catches.

"They were pretty hell bent on not allowing that to happen. It was smart by Joe to not force some balls into cloud coverage or double coverage," Taylor said. "You could see what the mentality was during that game, and there are still going to be sometimes you'll try to find that one-on-one and take our opportunities. The opportunity came up for Tee (Higgins) on that shot over the top that he caught … We feel like we've got plenty of weapons to go down the field so it doesn't have to always be Ja'Marr. We'll be able to react accordingly when they try to take that away"

Higgins had his biggest day of the year with 94 yards on just four catches, including his longest catch of the season, a great post and a great dime drop from Burrow between the cornerback and safety on a 54-yarder.

But it was his monstrous one-handed catch on a 26-yarder over-the-shoulder down the sideline while chicken-fighting in tight coverage all the way that was simply ridiculous.

"When we lined up in that bunch, I heard them communicating on the defensive side and I knew they were about to switch on a lot. We just had 1-on-1," Higgins said. "Joe gave me an opportunity, put the ball up in the air and I had great concentration on the ball and made a play on it … I just tried to adjust last-minute."

SLANTS AND SCREENS: After watching the tape Monday, nothing changed. The helmet-to-helmet penalty on slot cornerback Mike Hilton's third-down stop that prevented the Bengals from getting the ball back one last time continued to viewed as ridiculous 24 hours later by media. Social and otherwise. Don't be surprised if the Bengals sent the NFL clips of other similar hits from Sunday's game that weren't called. They could have started with Jets safety Ashtyn Davis' head shot on Boyd at the end of his 21-yard third-down conversion at the Jets 14, six minutes before the call on Hilton. Like Hilton, there's nothing else Davis could have done.

"Mike made a heck of a tackle. I wouldn't coach him to do anything differently," Anarumo said.

Taylor said right guard Jackson Carman (back) is day-to-day with nothing severe after being carted off the field on the Bengals' last series.