After the hints that third-year quarterback Jeff Driskel would be getting a chance to play behind the first-team offensive line, Driskel did in fact replace Andy Dalton against the Cowboys with the starting line still out there late in the third quarter. But things didn’t go right immediately like they did last week.
Driskel’s first pass was a completion to Tyler Boyd, but resulted in Boyd fumbling and the Cowboys recovering. After that, the Bengals protection issues continued and the offense had trouble moving the ball with against the Cowboys first-team defensive line.
The third pass of the night from Driskel resulted in an impressive interception by cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, but a poor decision by Driskel. He and the Bengals went into the locker room at halftime with nothing to show for on offense.
The third quarter was when Driskel started to bounce back. The second-team offensive line showed signs of competence against the reserves for Dallas, and Driskel helped orchestrate two scoring drives, including a couple impressive downfield throws to receivers John Ross and Alex Erickson.
Driskel finished his night with 119 yards on 10-16 passing, and an interception, with a passer rating of 59.1.
As soon as the Cowboys had their backups going against the Bengals second-team, his efficiency picked up along with the protection he received from his offensive line.
The numbers didn’t end up looking great, but his performance was reminiscent of last week’s win against Chicago.
Most importantly, it was confirmed that he bumped Barkley down to third-string duties, and Barkley ended up playing around the same time as rookie quarterback Logan Woodside.
Most of Barkley’s production came off some impressive yards after the catch by running back Brian Hill, and Woodside didn’t quite look prepared to play for the first time in his career.
Driskel still represents the best option the Bengals currently have behind Dalton, and his performance probably keeps him where he is going into the dress rehearsal that is the third preseason game.
If the Bengals first-team offensive line decides to show up against Buffalo next week, maybe Driskel starts out better than he did tonight.