When the Bengals offense took the field with Andy Dalton, a rookie, at the helm, I held my breath. First play, first long pass, first attempted pass to fellow rookie A.J. Green.
Dalton floated his second pass over fullback Chris Pressley's head on a third-down play. He was obviously nervous. Dalton played the entire first half and while the offense never looked good, Dalton seemed to find some sort of rhythm. He finished the first half with 11 completions on 15 attempts with no touchdowns and one interception for a total of 69 yards.
I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but he looked better than any other Bengals quarterback.
Bengals new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden wasn't happy with the way his offense played, but he wasn't completely down on his young quarterback either.
"The game wasn't a total debacle on his part. He can get better as can everyone else. The good thing is there isn't anyone that can say hey I'm awesome. Everybody can say they have a lot of improvement to do.
"At least he didn't panic. He didn't have a scared look in his eyes and we just have to do a better job. Have to get better all the way around."
In truth, there wasn't much to be excited about. The defense seemed overwhelmed, the offensive couldn't form a clean pocket for the quarterback, there were way too many mistakes and not nearly enough stand out plays to leave Bengals fans something to be excited about.
Benson was about the only player on offense that looked really solid every time he touched the ball. He ran the ball six times for 37 yards (6.2 YPC) with one carry that went 16 yards. "We had a couple good runs with Cedric which was good to see," Gruden said of the team's starting running back.
While we're all disappointed in the outcome of the Bengals game last night, we also need to remember that this game didn't count and it's only the first of four preseason games. The Bengals still have a month to iron out the kinks in the offense and defense. The Bengals are going to be a little behind the curve right now because of the nasty combination of rookies in key positions and the lockout. They have time to get things right, though.
The Bengals can work with what they got out of Friday night's game. They have to. Gruden knows that the offense has to get better.
"Andy found his rhythm and had some completions. Score three points and having 110 yards at half wasn't good enough but it is what it is right now. We have to get better."
The good news is, they have time. The bad news is, the time they have may not be enough.