Keith Wenning's time in Cincinnati appears to have come to a close. The Coldwater, Ohio native brought the team back from a 6-3 deficit with a touchdown pass to Alonzo Russell with 1:55 left in the preseason finale against the Colts. But the Bengals' third string defense allowed quarterback Stephen Morris to lead a clutch drive of his own in the closing minutes of the game, resulting in a 13-10 loss for Cincinnati. Just a few days later, and one day after cutting Wenning, the Bengals signed Jeff Driskel off waivers, essentially ensuring that Wenning will not be back anytime soon.
AJ McCarron, meanwhile, never found his rhythm against the Colts, despite throwing to three rookie wide receivers who are expected to be a significant part of the offense this year. Unlike in previous games, McCarron didn't complete many downfield passes to Tyler Boyd, Cody Core or Alex Erickson. Nonetheless, McCarron and Wenning still had a couple of nice throws. To see an analysis of their performances, watch the following video:
McCarron was 7/12 for 95 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs and a QB rating of 83.7. Wenning was 12/24 for 150 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs and a 66.3 QB Rating.
Deconstructing McCarron and Wenning
In three of his four drives, McCarron was able to get in Indianapolis territory. And yet, the offense came away with 0 points. Meanwhile, after a slow start, Wenning appeared to have finally found a rhythm on the team's second to last drive. He completed 5 of 7 passes for 74 yards and picked up key first downs before throwing the touchdown pass to Russell with 1:55 left. But after the Colts scored, the Bengals received the ball with 40 seconds left, trailing 13-10. Wenning would be intercepted on a desperation shot after poor clock management left the Bengals with only 20 seconds remaining after the first play of the drive.
Andy Dalton will face a New York Jets secondary that is pretty average outside of Darrelle Revis. Even Revis is slowly on the decline. And the last time the two teams played, Dalton put up five touchdowns and 325 yards.
Directions of McCarron and Wenning
Slightly downward for McCarron, while significantly downward for Wenning.
While it is always a mistake to read too much into preseason performances, it is difficult to ignore the lack of results in the passing game against Indianapolis. One would have expected McCarron to shine against the Colts' backups. And Wenning's late surge was inspired, but he did little to show he deserved even a spot on the practice squad before that. Nonetheless, Driskel appears to be a downgrade, leaving many asking why he was chosen over Wenning, who is already familiar with the playbook. But Marvin Lewis and management have earned fans' trust. Perhaps their thinking was that Driskel is bigger and played in the SEC when he was at Florida, thus he has greater upside. Only time will tell, but fortunately for Bengals fans, it probably won't matter in the end, as Dalton is a tough quarterback who rarely gets injured and McCarron is unlikely to be traded.