With two preseason games now in the books and the Bengals looking like they are ready to take the next step, they face a brutal offensive force tonight in the Green Bay Packers. The Aaron Rodgers led squad went 15-1 in 2011 and even after a slow start to the preseason, show no signs of slowing down.
Last week, the Bengals faced a formidable opponent in the Atlanta Falcons and showed that their defense is able to compete with some of the most high-powered offenses in the league. The Bengals first team offense, led by Andy Dalton also showed that they are capable of moving against stringy defenses and that resulted in two scoring drives.
The Packers may not be as vicious on the defensive side of the ball as the Falcons, but they have a reputation for being ball-hawks. This will be a great test for Dalton and his receivers as they will need to be on the same page to prevent any kind of turnovers. Dalton and A.J. Green should be on the same page at this point as they showed last week when they connected on a beautiful 50-yard touchdown bomb down the right sideline. Tonight, it will be a test for other receivers such as Andrew Hawkins, Armon Binns, and Brandon Tate. These receivers need to show Dalton that they will be in position when their quarterback is ready to unleash the football. Last year, second wide receiver, Jerome Simpson, and slot receiver, Andre Caldwell struggled mightily in this particular area. Tonight will be the first time that these receiver have an actual chance to show that they are, in fact, a big improvement to the receiver position over the 2011 corps.
Also, on offense, the Bengals offensive line need to get things going in the run game. They have been brilliant pass protectors as they were last year, but they aren’t giving the backs many chances to get the ball up the field. With the Bengals’ top two running backs, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott shelved again this week, Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman need to have a much better showing than last week. Against the Falcons, they couldn’t get much going at all and both had terrible yards per carry averages. Also, each player had fumbling problems which needs to be fixed immediately. Between the offensive line and these two backs, the Bengals and offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden will be looking for a much improved effort in the running game.