In general, this didn’t feel like an overly dominant game from the Bengals.
For one, the Bengals’ red zone offense left something to be desired. The Bengals only converted on one of their four red zone attempts.
For another, the defense missed quite a few open field tackles. That’s something that they’ll need to clean up.
Despite all that, there were a lot of great individual performances. Some names jumped out as they were eager to showcase their talent in live competition.
Here’s what we learned from the Bengals’ preseason opener.
Two running backs made their case
Trayveon Williams really missed an opportunity, and will have some ground to make up when he plays again.
Chris Evans gained the hard yards against the Buccaneers. He had 12 carries, and only 25 rushing yards, but also had 33 receiving yards. He was the second-leading receiver on the team behind Trenton Irwin. Evans didn’t have great running blocking to run behind, so his rushing totals were skewed. He played hard despite the lack of rushing production.
Jacques Patrick played like his livelihood was on the line. He was the team leader in carries with 15 and rushing yards with 71.
Joe Mixon had one carry, while Samaje Perine had three. They’re firmly established number one and number two, respectively. The Bengals will have some tough decisions regarding how many backups to carry and who they will be.
The offensive line picture became clearer
Overall, the “starting” offensive line held their own against the Buccaneers defense. Michael Jordan didn’t cause anyone to be injured, and actually didn’t look bad. Billy Price struggled, but played in place of Trey Hopkins, who is presumably taking a bye to ease back from his knee injury.
Isaiah Prince looked solid at second left tackle. Gunnar Vogel did not look solid across from Prince. If the backup swing tackle came down to one of those two, Prince would get the job.
Jackson Carman, the one we’ve all been wanting to see, got some playing time at guard. He doesn’t quite look ready to be a starting guard in the NFL. This doesn’t mean he never will be, but he just isn’t ready right now.
The defensive linemen stood out
There were a lot of good plays from the defensive line, particularly from the edge.
Trey Hendrickson and Joseph Ossai received a great welcome to the Bengals’ gift in a Tom Brady sack. Ossai had a brilliant night and played much longer than he should have.
Darius Hodge also had a day. Hodge had 1.5 sacks and five QB hits. Cam Sample also had two QB hits and a tackle for a loss.
With Mike Daniels, Amani Bledsoe, and Freedom Akinmoladun rotating in the middle behind D.J. Reader and Larry Ogunjobi, and with Ossai, Hodge, and Sample rotating on the edges, the Bengals’ defense line should get much better pressure than they did last year.
The defense in general held up
The defensive depth, in general, looks much more impressive than it has in years. The defense had a problem with open field tackling, but that aside, it was a good night for the defense. The Buccaneers only scored one touchdown on offense, so all in all, a good night defensively.
The defensive line held their own against an excellent Tampa Bay offensive line. The linebackers, from Akeem Davis-Gaither to Markus Bailey to Keandre Jones to Joe Bachie, all played well.
The backup safeties stood out as well. Both Trayvon Henderson and Kavon Frazier had an interception, and aside from a couple missed tackles, looked pretty good. Even Brandon Wilson was all over the field as Jessie Bates’ backup.
The cornerbacks kept the passing offense to a minimum. While none of them made any spectacular plays, they had a pretty solid night. It’s a good sign when the cornerbacks don’t draw much attention to themselves.