A few quick thoughts after a detailed review of the Bengals/Jets game:
*I’m optimistic about the defense. The unit was continually put in bad situations and performed rather well. The defensive line showed some good penetration, although I’d like to see more speed off the edge (hopefully, Carlos Dunlap can provide that when he returns). And that much ballyhooed touchdown by Plaxico Burress came against the Bengals backups, so I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about that. What should be clear is that the Bengals need to get and stay healthy. The team could use Dunlap, Adam Jones, and even rookie Dontay Moch. There’s simply not a whole lot of quality depth behind the team’s starters.
*I’m not bailing on Andy Dalton just yet. He wasn’t always accurate with his passes, but he was also playing in a steady rainstorm. Mark Sanchez wasn’t making pinpoint throws either, but he got more help from his receivers. Dalton seemed to make the right reads on almost all of his throws, which is pretty encouraging for a rookie quarterback, especially against a defense that likes to blitz. I’d also take one of his interceptions off his rap sheet. The throw to A.J. Green wasn’t perfect, but it was entirely catchable.
*Clint Boling looked okay at both guard positions. I wasn’t awed by any particular play, but he was able to neutralize defenders in the run game and hold his position in pass protection. That’s actually pretty good for a rookie. Geoff Hobson noted that he might be the team’s most athletic guard and said that Dave Lapham, who has some experience in regard to line play, is giving him good reviews as well. Boling seems like he’ll take over a starting spot soon, probably on the left side.
*Andre Smith makes me a little nervous. He seemed to struggle with balance on a few plays and that doesn’t bode well for his performance against speed rushers later in the season. I still think the team would be a lot better with Smith at left guard and Anthony Collins at right tackle. Who cares how much money everyone is making? Isn’t it about putting the best five guys on the line? It should be.
And in my final act of analysis (or perhaps insanity), I’m predicting a Bengals win at home tomorrow. Carolina has a rookie quarterback as well and I think Cam Newton will struggle just as Andy Dalton has. This is a good opportunity for the Bengals to develop some positive mojo and if the team can’t perform well with a home crowd behind them and a fairly inaccurate rookie quarterback on the opposite sideline, things could really get ugly this season.
But then again, we kind of know that already.