Preseason games are meant to showcase the talent available on the Bengals’ extended roster, although some areas were not explored as in-depth as they should have been. The Bengals will want to have a complete idea of the talent at their disposal, so they should consider exploring and improving some of these areas when they face the Kansas City Chiefs.
Improved performances from Dalton and McCarron
The Bengals saw a great performance from third string quarterback Jeff Driskel, who brought the team back from a deficit at the end of the first half. He found a way to lead the team to victory both through the air and on the ground.
However, the first-half performances from Andy Dalton and AJ McCarron were much less impressive. They combined for a total of nine completions on 13 attempts for 87 yards and an interception. You can probably pass the poor performances off as knocking off the rust in the first preseason game, but it would still be nice to see the pair perform better against the Chiefs.
More snaps for Cody Core
Core only saw two targets on seven snaps against the Buccaneers. At that, he only connected on one of the passes. But, that one pass was an impressive 17-yard gain that helped the team even the score in the second quarter. Only six non-specialists saw less snaps on the day than Core, but he made the most of the opportunity he was given.
The Bengals have already discussed their desire to roster seven receivers, partially due to Core’s continued progress with the team. However, it will be very difficult to justify that if they fail to give him the chance to prove he deserves the extra roster spot.
Testing Joe Mixon’s receiving skills
Joe Mixon wasn’t exactly hurting for opportunities to shine as a running back against the Buccaneers. His six carries for 31 yards (5.2 yards per carry) had fans, analysts, and teammates raving about his performance.
Perhaps less celebrated was his contribution in the passing game. He caught a pass for 11 yards as part of a game-tying drive in the second quarter. Mixon has been touted as a multi-tooled running back, a jack of all trades in the backfield. It would be nice to see the Bengals utilize him a bit more in the passing game going forward.
Stronger defensive performance
The Bengals’ defense picked up in the second half, but the first and second team looked vulnerable in the first half. Although the team generally looked good against short passes, the run defense saw mixed results, allowing Charles Sims to record 7.7 yards per carry, and the pass defense had a bad habit of allowing passes of 10 yards or more.
Although it’ difficult to be too hard on players in the first preseason game, the first and second-team defense looked decidedly average for much of the first half.
Bigger commitment to the passing game
There are a lot of new components to the passing game, so a stronger emphasis on testing things out is ideal. Whether it’s the proper strategy for the team’s offensive attack all season remains to be seen, but it’s something they should explore more before the season starts.
The Bengals only attempted 22 passes to the Buccaneers’ 40. By contrast, the Bengals ran the ball 36 times. Granted, they certainly want to commit to the running game during the season, especially considering how much talent they have in the backfield.
But before the season starts, testing the limits of the passing game would be ideal, allowing them to see how everything is coming together. Then again, it might be difficult to properly gauge the receiving corps if John Ross is still held out.