Cincinnati kicks off another preseason game on Friday night, hosting the Philadelphia Eagles. From the Hall of Fame game in early August until the very moment that you're reading this, the Bengals primary goal is to keep improving. Improving.
You can make whatever claim you'd like, justifying all you want, how badly the Bengals are performing because of some mythical belief that the preseason sets the pace for the regular season. You could make the claim how they are underachieving, or even disastrous with some units. If you need perspective to calm your weary mind, they haven't even reached the halfway point on the preseason menu. Improvement, is all they care for.
If you judge the team from the Hall of Fame game to the second preseason game against the Denver Broncos, they have improved. With three games to go, improving is the basis on which I'm judging this team. Therefore, improvements I'm looking for tonight.
CONTINUED IMPROVED LINE PLAY. While it's true, the Bengals did perform much, much better against the Denver Broncos than they did against the Cowboys with improved line play, it's also true that Denver lost their premiere pass rusher earlier during training camp. The Philadelphia Eagles will be a good test for this team, figuring where they need to continue improving on the offensive line. Is it schemes? Or is it personnel?
BATTLE OF WIDE RECEIVER CONTINUES. Even if Jordan Shipley doesn't have the type of game Friday night like he had last Sunday, I believe he's cemented himself as the team's slot receiver. It's after that which continues the wide receiver battles. How much does Dezmon Briscoe have to do to get back in the battle? How secure is Andre Caldwell? Is there really any reason to keep Jerome Simpson on the roster this year? Will Quan Cosby make everything interesting with his superb special teams play? Will Matt Jones get shutout again, after he was somewhat promoted to the second team against Denver?
COVERAGE WITH THE SAFETIES. If there were a concern on defense, it's coverage by our safeties. For the love of god, if we spend another 20 years watching opposing tight ends walk all over us, I'm going to mommy's to cry my little eyes out.
TIGHT ENDS. I loved seeing Jermaine Gresham show the potential he has against Denver. I loved it. Madly in love, like some corny Meg Ryan movie with the Goo Goo Dolls playing in the background love. I would also like to see more out of Chase Coffman. No, Coffman won't challenge Gresham as the team's receiving tight end, nor will he challenge Reggie Kelly as the team's blocking tight end. But it would still be nice to see my master prediction come to fruition that the Bengals use double tight end formations with Chase and Gresham on the outsides.
PASS RUSH. With Antwan Odom, Carlos Dunlap, Jonathan Fanene and Michael Johnson, I'd like to see a better pass rush against the first offense, rather than seeing it once the second team gets on the field.
What are you looking for against the Eagles. I mean, since the game isn't sold out and blackout locally, what are you expecting to hear on the radio or read on this very site?