DETROIT - AUGUST 12: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals drops back to pass during the second quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 12, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Both the Bengals and the Jets will be looking to get their first preseason win when they take the field on Sunday night in New York. The Jets are coming off a 20-16 loss to the Houston Texans and the Bengals coming off a 34-3 beat down at the hands of the Lions.
There are a lot of things that I'll be looking for throughout the Bengals second preseason game, but here are that I think are most important:
|5. A Touchdown|
Even though the Bengals didn't get shut out in their game against the Lions, they were pretty damn close. Andy Dalton has gotten his first professional interception out of the way, now it's time to get his first touchdown. The starters will likely get to play the entire first half on Sunday and won't take the field again until next Thursday at home against the Panthers. The third preseason game is known as the dress rehearsal because it's the best glimpse of what the fans will see when the team takes the field in the regular season. Before they take the field on Thursday, it would be nice to see the starting offense get more than three points on the board, especially if that touchdown came from Dalton.
Even if the team loses on Sunday, scoring a few points would be a great confidence booster for the offense. Likewise, not scoring any points would be a confidence killer heading into the third preseason game.
|4. More Benson
In the short period of time that Cedric Benson was on the field last Friday, he was impressive. He only carried the ball six times, but from those six carries, he amassed 37 yards. That's 6.2 yards per carry with the longest carry being 16 yards.
Benson should get a larger chunk of work on Sunday and the last two times he faced the Jets, Benson carried the ball for 210 yards. With Benson in the backfield, hammering away between the tackles, the defense will need to be respectful of the run game. That will help open up the passing game for Dalton. Basically, the Bengals offense will be all around better with Benson in the backfield.
|3. Clint Boling|
While the run blocking of the first-string offensive line wasn't terrible, the pass protection, especially between the tackles, was. Dalton was continuously pressure from the middle of the line, preventing him from stepping up into the pocket and into his throws. Ndamukong Suh burst between the tackles more than once, and on one occasion even managed to rip Dalton's helmet off his head.
The middle of the line currently consists of Nate Livings at left guard, Kyle Cook at center and Bobbie Williams at right guard. Livings has been the main target of the majority of all the negative comments about the line and Williams, one of the team's leaders, is entering his 12th year and may be starting to show some signs of his age.
Offensive line coach Paul Alexander said this week that he will be putting the team's fourth-round pick Clint Boling into the game early to see how he does at the guard position against the defense's starters. It's unclear as to which spot he'll go in first, left or right, but we know he will play both positions by the end of the game.
If he plays well, we could watch a future starter at the guard position.
|2. A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson vs. Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie|
This year's group of wide receivers is very young and inexperienced but also extremely talented. Fans are excited to see the team's No. 4 overall pick A.J. Green and one of the few players that provided highlights last season, Jerome Simpson, catching passes from Dalton. However, the Jets boast one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL.
Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie will be good tests for the young receivers. Revis, one of the best in the league, is a very physical cornerback and does a very good job at shutting down some of the best receivers in the NFL. Cromartie, on the other side of the field, is extremely athletic and can be just as good as Revis.
It will be the best test for Green and Simpson heading into their first season as the team's top two receivers.
It was encouraging to see Dalton settle down and get into a groove last Friday and complete some passes. What would be more encouraging would be to see more of that. I'm not necessarily expecting the Bengals, who went 4-12 last season and are starting over this season, to defeat the New York Jets on Sunday, who lost to the Steelers in the AFC Championship last year.
What I do want to see is progress from last week to this week. I want to see the offense move down the field and score a touchdown. I want to see the defense make some stops and get some pressure on the quarterback. I want to see a better team on Sunday than we saw last Friday.
What is it that you want to see?