Thank all that is considered holy, football is back. Who cares if it's just preseason? I know I don't. We got to watch a week of sloppy, slow football but at least football is back. That's what really matters.
The Bengals took the field in Paul Brown Stadium on Friday night to face the Jets, who may be the most hated team outside of the AFC North for most Bengals fans, and in the end, the score was 17-6 good guys.
Here are some thoughts on the game from in this season's first Monday Touchdown.
|Point One: A win is a win|
I could honestly care less if it's preseason or not. A preseason win is always going to be better than a preseason loss, even if the score or the game itself doesn't matter. Watching them walk off the field at the end of the fourth quarter after a win, no matter how meaningless, will always help me sleep better at night than when they lose.
Even if it doesn't matter.
|Point Two: We saw exactly what we didn't want to see.....|
Even though they won, we saw exactly what we didn't want to see in the Bengals' first preseason game: injuries. It wasn't just injuries, though. It was four injuries to four key players right in the beginning of the game. First it was starting left guard Travelle Wharton, who is likely out for the season, went out on the team's third offensive play. Then it was starting defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who could miss the entire preseason with a knee sprain. Then it was starting middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, who also sprained his knee, and starting safety Taylor Mays, who suffered a concussion. Both Maualuga and Mays will likely be back by the team's third preseason game, but watching all four being taken out of the game before halftime was enough to make me sick.
Hopefully the second preseason game will work out better for them when it comes to injuries.
|Point Three: Brandon Tate and Armon Binns|
Both Brandon Tate and Armon Binns are working to be named the team's No. 2 receiver. Binns is penciled in as the team's No. 2 man right now and based on his performance in the team's first preseason game, he deserved the title. However, Armon Binns also played well, though, and I could literally see either opposite of No. 1 receiver A.J. Green. What will likely happen is that both will get considerable playing time when the regular season rolls around, but for right now I'm happy to watch two guys who are willing to tear themselves to pieces to solidify their spot on the roster.
Maybe the team's No. 2 receiver situation isn't so dire after all.
|Point Four: Speaking of wide receivers|
Jordan Shipley suffered a nasty knee injury last season and even though he's close to being ready to play at full speed again, if he isn't already, I wouldn't be surprised to watch his name drop down the depth chart. Not only is he behind the curve because of how far the team has come this offseason, but he's going to be stuck behind guys like Andrew Hawkins, who has become a fan favorite in Cincinnati. Hawkins is quicker and has more speed than Shipley and even though he may not take over the slot position permanently, he's not going to give it up willingly.
I predict that Shipley will be back on the field this season, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him in a much smaller role than we would have predicted, even after his injury last season.
|Point Five: Defense looked solid|
The Bengals looked impressive on offense at time, but in the end it was the defense that won the game, keeping the Jets out of the end zone throughout the entire game and only giving up six points. The defense looked solid from the first string down to the third string and beyond. The depth on the defensive line is still deep, the linebackers are just as talented and the secondary is talented and deep as well.
If the Bengals can limit the injuries on the defensive side of the ball they can easily have one of the top defenses in the division and throughout the league.
|Point Six: Vontaze Burfict|
Burfict impressed me on Friday night. Not only did he rack up a few tackled, but he read a pass and picked it off. It wasn't an ordinary interception from a linebacker where the quarterback just didn't see that they were there either, it was a diving interception that showcased his athleticism and showed what he can do on the field. Burfict likely won't start, but if he keeps doing what he's doing now and keeps learning and improving and keeps his head on straight, he could easily be the No. 2 middle linebacker and a heavy contributor on special teams.
And really, the sky is the limit for Burfict right now. He could easily be a starter on defense and be considered the steal of the 2012 draft.
|Extra Point: Confidence|
Even though the game didn't matter, the mood in the Bengals locker room has to be in better shape than it would be if they had lost. That confidence is extremely important to the team and if they continue to build on it throughout the preseason they could be primed to start the regular season on the right foot to make another playoff run.
I don't know about you, but I'm excited as hell about the next few months. I think it's going to be a good season.