I watched the NFL Network’s replay of the Bengals/Lions game and paid special attention to the passing game in Andy Dalton’s first start. Here are a few quick thoughts:
-Dalton looks to be a good fit for the Bengals offense. He got rid of the football rather quickly and was accurate as well. Even though his first attempt to A.J. Green was intercepted, the rest of them were encouraging. The Bengals have some talented receivers who run well after the catch. Jay Gruden’s offense should give them a chance to display their skills.
-The Bengals offensive line is much better at run blocking than pass protection. The line struggled at times against the Lions and Dalton was harassed and rushed due to breakdowns up front. Nate Livings, Bobbie Williams, and Andre Smith were underwhelming at times.
-If the Bengals can’t improve their protection, Dalton may develop a tendency to look at the pass rush instead of his receivers. For a rookie quarterback to succeed, it is important that he’s pretty well-protected. I’m not sure that will apply with Dalton. The Bengals should continue to look for upgrades as cuts are made by other teams. They also should seriously consider moving Andre Smith to left guard and inserting Anthony Collins at right tackle. I believe both positions would be improved – at least in pass protections – by the transition. It would also seem to put the Bengals five best linemen in starting positions.
-The Jets, along with Revis Island and Alcrotraz, are up next for the Bengals. The standout corners and solid defense overall should provide an excellent test for Dalton and the Bengals. Let’s hope they pass it.