If you were to ask me the basic question on whether this team improved since last week, my honest answer is split into two reactions. The offense did score a touchdown and the first team defense vastly improved over their effort. On the other hand, it's hard to support that theory simply because of the way Cincinnati's first team offense embarrassingly failed to dodge the adversity of Sunday night that included the pelting first quarter rain. Andy Dalton struggled early on, missing his mark every conceivable way. Then much like a starting pitcher that struggles in the first inning, Dalton settled down and threw much more accurately, as if he settled down and allowed the game to come to him. Unfortunately the sums didn't equal the whole, with his receivers stricken by a lack of concentration failing to grab makeable receptions.
Even so, Dalton's first five pass attempts that went incomplete with two interceptions sprinkled in like a salt to increase the flavor, shifted into a decent passing performance of eight completions on his final 14 attempts. Though none were touchdowns, Dalton did complete four passes on third-and-long situations that resulted in first downs. Improvements. Small as they might be, and as horrible as the process might seem, playing time should eventually tip the scale in favor of experience against mistakes.
The passing defense didn't quiet growing concerns, allowing Mark Sanchez and Greg Mcelroy to combine for 232 yards passing and three touchdowns, completing 18 of 29 passes for a combined quarterback rating of 121.6. Though the defense did post two quarterback sacks on Sunday (DeQuin Evans and a shared sack between Clinton McDonald and Manny Lawson), the team has gone eight quarters without a take-away.
In two preseason games, the Bengals have been outscored 61-10.
The Bengals will take Monday off and spend Tuesday and Wednesday preparing for their Thursday night game against the Carolina Panthers at Paul Brown Stadium.