Despite ultimately losing 17-13 to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday to finish the preseason at 1-3, there were some wins on the field for the Bengals. Here are some of my takes from the game, as well as from the preseason as a whole.
Win: Andy Dalton. He came out ready this week, going 6/9 for 43 yds in two drives. In 4 games he went 36/60 (60%) for 328 yds. That is 9.1 yds/comp or 5.5 yds/att. Decent for a rookie. I like the kid’s steadiness and how much he has grown in only seven quarters of football. He has come a long way since the disaster in Detroit just 3 weeks ago.
Loss: Use of Jerome Simpson. 3 catches for 17 yds in 4 games. Puzzling. Is Jerome some sort of secret weapon, and they don’t want any tape on him out there?
Win: Run Defense. 379 yds allowed on 114 carries in 4 games, 3.3 y/c average. They held both Detroit and Indy to 2.1 y/c. BOOM!
Loss: Secondary. Do you smell something burning? 66 receptions for 835 yds, 12.7 y/r average. SMOKED!
Win: Running Game. After battling two good run D’s and two weak run D’s, the running game netted 469 yds on 114 carries for a 4.1 yds/carry average. I’ll take that. They had 10 more passing than rushing attempts, but the passing game needed far more work. Rushing attempts outnumbering pass attempts in real games, however, will be an indicator of good things.
Loss: Turnovers. GREAT ODIN’S RAVEN!! They gave up the pig at a pace of -28 turnover differential in 16 games. A.J.’s fumble was simply brutal. There is no single faster way to torpedo a season than to let these giveaways continue. But as the offense improves, so should this stat. I won’t be shocked if they end up negative in this stat, but they shouldn’t be -28.
Tie: Offensive Line. After struggling mightily against stout defenses in the Lions and Jets, the offensive line pushed around the Panthers and Colts defenses. This group will have the most to say about how well the offense does this year. I want to think that they will look more like the crew from 2009 than the one from 2010, but that is probably because they played the weaker defenses last.
All in all, I think we saw what we expected to see from the preseason: Mind-numbing mistakes and big potential, reasons to fear and reasons to be excited for the future. But enough of this preseason junk. Bring on Cleveland!