Cincinnati's first-team effort against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offered summary descriptions like "sad", "awful", and "pathetic." The offense generated -2 yards of offense in the first quarter, turned it over on three consecutive possessions in the second quarter and only managed three first half points.
It was such a dreadful showing that offensive coordinator Hue Jackson would rather forget it. "I tried to throw it in the trash," Jackson said of the film via Bengals.com. "I didn't want to watch it. It wasn't good. I was there. I saw it. I watched it for four quarters. I saw it up close and personal."
When judging the preseason, one should expect teams to struggle, provided there's enough progress each week to build off of. Cincinnati's first team offense couldn't even muster an optimistic view from their performance during ESPN's Monday Night Football.
"At the end of the day, that's not who we want to be. That's not how we go about it, and I think our guys know that," Jackson said after practice on Wednesday. "So we're going to turn the page, and we came out here today and went to work. The guys had a great practice. I think they're focused. I think they understand what we need to accomplish. We're 18 days away from the opener and I think we all recognize that. Not that we weren't trying on Monday night. That's not it at all. I think guys tried. We just didn't get it done. We don't want to have days like that and I don't expect to have days like that, so on we go."
Everyone was at fault.
A.J. Green watched an easy reception slip through his fingers, leading to Alterraun Verner's pick-six. Andy Dalton unadvisably tried dropping a dime between coverages to Tyler Eifert, only to see the football sail over him for another interception. Pass protection was uncharacteristically bad, with sacks allowed by Clint Boling and Kevin Zeitler while Andrew Whitworth allowed multiple pressures. Fullback Ryan Hewitt secured the worst run-blocking (Pro Football Focus) score against Tampa. Giovani Bernard hasn't offered much explosiveness during his relatively low rush attempts and Jeremy Hill fumbled the football midway through the second quarter.
"The mindset needs to be changed. I think we were kind of complacent out there," Hill said via Bengals.com. "After playing the way we did against the Giants, I think we just thought it would happen and you can't do that. You have to go out there with the same intensity and the same respect you have for every opponent. We have to continue to grind."
Whereas the offense took the brunt of Cincinnati's frustration, the defense has many open-ended question marks.
Tampa Bay opened the game with an 80-yard touchdown drive, capped by Jameis Winston's scramble into the endzone. The Buccaneers didn't face a single third down situation during their opening possession, generating five first downs in the process.
Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick allowed a 22-yard touchdown in the second quarter, admitting this week that exhaustion may have caused him to lose some burst this week. "I just couldn't run," Kirkpatrick said via Bengals.com. "I played the route well. I was trying to burst, I just didn't have it. I don't like to make excuses. You have to get through your adversity."
Yet, if the Bengals are going to hit a wall where mental focus is replaced by complacency, now would be that time.
"It's just so not like us. I'm glad it happened. It kind of put it in perspective. We were getting praise, especially after the Giants game. It put it in perspective that we still have a lot of work to do. We still have to grind. That was definitely good for us."