When the New York Jets take on the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, points are likely to be at a premium. The Bengals rank 22nd in the NFL in scoring offense and the Jets rank 24th, while the Bengals have the 7th ranked scoring defense and the Jets have the 9th ranked total defense. Given the challenge that both offenses face, somebody will have to step up and become the playmaker who changes the course of the game.
For the Jets, that player could be Jeff Cumberland. The fourth year tight end has been steadily improving as the season has gone on, and he 14 receptions for 239 yards and 2 TDs this season, with 11 catches, 213 yards and both scores coming in the last four games. Geno Smith has targeted Cumberland much more frequently following Kellen Winslow’s suspension and Santonio Holmes’ injury, and Cumberland has responded with some key catches.
Cumberland is the type of big, fast, athletic tight end that has become so prominent around the NFL, and he has the potential to be a big time playmaker for the Jets. He could be in for a breakout game on Sunday, because the Bengals have had some issues against tight ends this season.
The Bengals have allowed receiving touchdowns to opposing tight ends in four of their seven games. In the Bengals’ two losses, Martellus Bennett and Jordan Cameron were huge factors, especially Cameron in Cincinnati’s surprising loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Jets need to exploit this weakness, as the Bengals’ linebackers are much better against the run than they are in pass coverage.
At 6’4″, 260 lbs with 4.45 speed, Cumberland is type of player who is too fast for linebackers and too big for safeties. He has had great success working the seams this season, and Smith should be able to find him on a few occasions down the middle of the field. The Jets should make a point of targeting Cumberland early and often in this game, because he could be a difference maker.
The Jets need additional playmakers to continue to step up for their offense, as they have struggled to put up points this season. On Sunday, look for Jeff Cumberland to be that player, and he could have a breakout game.