The Cincinnati Bengals lost a fumble, threw two interceptions, missed a field goal and punted six times. They also gave up three drives of 67 drives -- two of which result in touchdowns and the third resulting with a fumble on the goal line. This was the result of the Bengals 17-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints during last year's opening preseason game.
A game that was played a full week after the Bengals 2010 preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
So my question to you is this. If you were to write one sentence on what you thought about tonight, what would it be? Would you make the point that the Bengals had practiced only a week during training camp before kicking off the preseason? Would you make a point that the first preseason game is perhaps the second most meaningless (behind the final game) to judge a team with? Would you make the point that the Bengals largely didn't plan, nor prepare, for the Cowboys strictly using an evaluation process for the individual players?
Or would you find faults with the club? Faults that the Bengals coaching staff will unquestionably address with more than a month to address them.
One week. That's all the Bengals had to prepare. During this time, the team had to get their players into shape, get the entire unit accustomed to the playbook -- a playbook that perhaps only a fraction was used.
Yes, it would have been nice to have points. For me, if you're going to evaluate a team, then maybe scoring a few points would be nice towards that evaluation. Is it critical right now? Not really. The points will come. The team will adjust. Keep what worked, ditch what didn't. Put players in different situations.
One week. But while the Bengals offense looked absolutely lost (and that's an understatement), there were positives. So let's go through a few points about tonight's game.
- The performance from Michael Johnson and Geno Atkins takes the cake. Atkins looked quick, shedding blocks -- even double teams -- finishing with a team leading six tackles and a quarterback sack. Johnson's performance at outside linebacker gave us our best visual representation of the praise he's received all offseason with his transition from coaches recording two quarterback sacks.
- Additionally, I liked Adam Jones and Brandon Ghee. Having been out of football for so long, Jones' early rust during Training Camp didn't translated against the Cowboys, which included an impressively quick 31-yard return on kickoff. And I really like Brandon Ghee. That boy can hit; especially on guys that are still looking at a football 50 yards away in the air. Speaking of hard hitting, wasn't it nice to see a couple Roy Williams' hard impact shots?
- And what about Gibril Wilson, who recorded five tackles and a forced fumble?
- Aside from the first team defense, the Bengals generated a good pass rush and good penetration.
- Bengals receivers appeared to be finding ways to get open, but the quarterbacks were just unable to get them the football -- mostly because of the pressure from an offensive line that appeared ill-prepared for the Cowboys pass rush. A concern? Perhaps. But hopefully fixable.
- Also fixable: The Bengals committed 12 penalties for 90 yards lost.
- Chase Coffman made a nice reception on fourth-and-17 for 21 yards.