While using the phrase “dress rehearsal” can be quite hokey when referring to an NFL preseason game, it really is an apropos comparison. Teams have the chance to put their best foot forward before “the real deal”.
This Thursday, the new-look Cincinnati Bengals host a Giants team that is also in a bit of a transition. While many pundits are picking both teams to struggle in 2019, New York and Cincinnati do have talented players who could make them sneakily-competitive this season.
The similarities don’t end there, though. For two teams who rarely face each other and aren’t even in the same conference, recent parallels can’t be denied.
From a coaching aspect, the Bengals plucked Lou Anarumo from the Giants’ coaching staff, while Cincinnati also currently employs two former New York offensive linemen in John Jerry and Bobby Hart. The Giants also now have Kevin Zeitler as a replacement for Jerry at left guard (though Jerry left New York after 2017), who was compensation for Odell Beckham, Jr. from the Browns.
It doesn’t end there, though.
Both teams employ veteran quarterbacks who are on heat seats of varying temperatures and the franchises also have new(-ish) coaches looking to turn things around from a poor recent run. In short, the squads are looking to prove many naysayers wrong.
“As for expectations for the season, you’re right, I think you mentioned before that the Bengals and the Giants are in the same kind of place where they’re building, they’re trying to establish something,” Ed Valentine of SB Nation’s Big Blue View told us in our Orange and Black Insider podcast conversation this week.
“It doesn’t look like much, but they point to 2017 when everything went sideways for the Giants. The point to last year and they say ‘we won five games and we should have won a few more because we couldn’t make stops on defense in the final two minutes,’” Valentine continued. “And, they’re probably right. I think this year, they’re looking...if they can win 7, 8, 9 games and show progress, that’s what you’re looking at with the Giants. You’re not looking at an 11 or 12-win team.” I don’t think you’re looking at a three-win team, either. I think you’re looking at a team that is getting better, has got reason to believe they’re pointed in the right direction, but that might be a year away...”
Sound familiar? It should to folks around these parts.
Cincinnati could be a sleeper team this year, but a number of factors are giving many folks inside and outside of the fan base pause. Whether it’s in the inexperience of many major coaches, or some early injuries once agains striking important players, 2019 may be a building block year full of long-term player evaluations.
Regardless, while this matchup doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of the 2019 playoff picture, it does serve as a barometer of sorts for both teams. The weak spots of the roster could show, but the areas of strength to build upon this year and well into the respective tenures of both Pat Shurmur and Zac Taylor will also be on display.
We’ll see how the in-game production and end result play into the unfolding of each team’s 2019 campaign.
Also on this week’s episode:
- We reflect on Cedric Benson’s untimely passing and his time as a Cincinnati Bengals running back.
- What is going on with Christian Westerman? Can he play catch-up quick enough to hang on to a final roster spot?
- Could the Bengals use Jeff Driskel in the way the Saints use Taysom Hill?
- Will many of the currently-unsettled starting spots and back-end roster designations be decided after the game versus the Giants?
Our thanks to Ed Valentine over at Big Blue View for his time, as well as to all of the live listeners and to those who tune in to the show after our recording!
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