A lot of the excitement swirling around a new era of Cincinnati Bengals football was sucked out of the fan base last weekend. The team faced a big test by facing a 2019 AFC-favorite in the Kansas City Chiefs on their home turf, but the first game under Zac Taylor and Co. netted a three-touchdown loss.
Still, “it’s just the preseason”, right?
The summer exhibitions are difficult to use as predictors of regular season success. Such is the case for the Cincinnati Bengals in their loss last Saturday night, as a number of variables come into play when breaking down the film.
For instance, some may deem it a small miracle that the team held a 7-7 tie when the first-teams were given relief because of the slew of important players who didn’t suit up for the game. The team is obviously playing it safe after so many injuries hit the squad last season.
However, some of the perceived weak areas of the team began to show its warts. The linebacker corps and offensive line units were inconsistent at best, giving pause to optimism that began brewing in the spring.
The team now heads to the nation’s capital to take on the Redskins in a somewhat-important Week 2 preseason clash—at least important, in terms of (re-)building confidence. It’s also an opportunity for we outsiders to get a better grasp on the progress of this team.
On this week’s Orange and Black Insider podcast episode, John Sheeran and I spoke about the potential for all of us to be able to get a clearer image on the progress of the team this Thursday night against the Redskins.
Taylor’s openness to changing up the lineup: Since the conclusion of preseason opener, the new head coach has shown the refreshing willingness to give other players a shot at starting snaps. Trey Hopkins and Michael Jordan have run with the ones this week, which may or may not spur an uptick in performance on the offensive line.
Additionally, the coach is getting creative with Jeff Driskel, who didn’t have a great showing against the Chiefs. Ryan Finley will be the backup and see a lot of snaps this Thursday with the twos, aiding in the evaluation process of the quarterback position.
Returning of important players: Last week, the Bengals didn’t have Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Geno Atkins, William Jackson, A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Darqueze Dennard, Rodney Anderson, nor Carl Lawson in the lineup. Most, if not all of these guys will be making their returns either this week or next, so this should readily show a jump in production because of the cumulative amount of talent here.
Increase in starter snaps: The third preseason game is known as “the dress rehearsal”, but starters usually get more time in game No. 2. It’s imperative that injuries are avoided, so we’re probably talking a quarter here, instead of a lone series.
Even so, seeing “game speed” and getting into “regular season condition” is important—even for veterans. It’s also a specifically-important facet to this Bengals’ team, as players are acclimating to new systems and terminologies.
Also on this week’s episode:
- What do we make of the preseason Week 1 performances of Andy Dalton and his crew of backup wide receivers?
- Cincinnati has been making a number of interesting moves—both in terms of positional switching of current players, and the adding/shedding of new ones.
- After seeing an on-field product, what do we make of the depth of the current roster?
- John and Anthony engage in a brief discussion on Duke Tobin and the team’s recent draft classes/picks.
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