I wasn’t expecting the Kate Upton of performances for the preseason opener, but a 34-3 loss in Detroit shows that there is still plenty of work for the Bengals to do as they prepare for the regular season. Detroit is finally digging out from the Matt Millen era and putting something nice together, while the Bengals looked like a team that has had two weeks to learn an entirely new system and with a rookie QB at the helm.
Fortunately, the loss counts for nothing. Now that the benchmark has been set, the important thing is to see who learns from what happened in Detroit and steps up their game. Some will, and some won’t.
After watching the game, here are some of the answers to the questions I had before the game:
QB: 1) Will Andy show poise as he runs the offense? The rough start means nothing to me. I would have preferred that his first throw as a pro was not an interception, but dialing up a 20 yard strike first is not exactly putting him in the best position to succeed. What caught my eye is that he eventually settled in and went 11-of-15 for 69 yards. Not bad in the end. 2) Will Gradkowski makes us question who should start on September 11? Nope.
WR: Who makes a strong case to get the spots behind Green, Simpson, Shipley and Caldwell? There will be a 3-man race between Cosby, Whalen and Standeford for the last two spots. Standeford had 2 catches for 25 yards. Cosby did not play, and Whalen had no stats. No real answer here.
RB: 1) Will Cedric look strong? Will he hold on to the football? Yes, and yes. Ced looked good with 6 carries for 37 yards with a long of 18. I’ll take a 6.2 YPC average any day. 2) Who among Peerman, Finley and Williams will push for the 4th spot? I see why Marvin is excited about Finley. His speed is amazing. But he only netted 15 yards on 7 carries. Williams had 2 carries for 0 yards. Peerman had no stats. Right now, advantage Finley, possibly as a returner.
TE: Will Chase Coffman finally cement a place on this team? No good answer here. 1 reception for 9 yards and a costly holding penalty.
OL: This was my big area of concern, and they got a huge test from the Lions’ D-line. The test did not go well. Livings got abused. Smith did not look like a starter. Pressure got to the QB regularly, and Suh body-slammed Dalton once, netting a personal foul penalty. The one positive from this group was that they stayed clean from false starts and holding calls.
CB: 1) Will Clements be an acceptable replacement for Joseph? Did he play? I don’t recall hearing his name at all. 2) How much depth is there behind the starters? Considering how all 3 Detroit QBs threw the ball at will, not much. Opponents will be prepping their passing game when game-planning for the Bengals. 280 yards on 23 passes. OUCH!
S: Can these guys stay healthy? No injuries, that’s a start. But the entire secondary better get used to having Zimmer in their faces, because he is going to be cursing them out regularly if they keep playing like they did last night. The lack of attention from the front office to this group is very apparent.
LB: How good/bad will Rey-Rey look in moving back to the middle? That move went pretty well. The entire D limited Detroit to 70 yards on 33 carries.
DL: Can this group pick up where they left off last year? They might not be there yet, but they will be the strength of the defense. I welcome that change.