The defensive line is fantastic. Even with Carlos Dunlap, the team’s most effective rusher, on the bench, they are getting consistent pressure on opposing QBs. Geno Atkins is, of course, the biggest contributor, but Michael Johnson is having a solid preseason, and guys like Dontay Moch, rookies Brandon Thompson and Devon Still, and linebackers like Dan Skuta are getting a lot of pressure. This will be doubly helpful, in that it assists a depleted secondary.
Marvin Jones is impressive. If you’ve watched the games up to this point, you know this already. He’s big, fast, and as he showed on more than on occasion, athletic. He made a brilliant catch on a back-shoulder throw in the endzone last night and is earning some regular season playing time.
The secondary is a big concern. Injuries have ravaged the unit so far, and this could be a season-long issue. Leon Hall does look healthy and ready to go, which is a big plus, but after that, it’s a drop0ff. Nate Clements will probably start, but age has slowed him down, and Terrance Newman also has to rely on wits as he ages. He had trouble with WRs when left against them one-on-one. At safety, Reggie Nelson looks to be even better, but Taylor Mays is a penalty waiting to happen. I worry that he’ll become a target of the officials for his style of play, and get called for a lot of personal fouls that shouldn’t be called.
The defense continues to struggle with running QBs. In week one, Tim Tebow scrambled for big gains on multiple occasions, and last night Aaron Rodgers did the same, including two TDs. The defense is aggressive in coming after the sack, and a running QB is taking advantage of the over-pursuit and the hole left in the middle of the line. They will need to address this before the regular season starts.
Overall, I was happy, even though the Bengals lost. There were a lot of positives, but still a few negatives that need work. Week four will likely see very little of the starters, so practice for the next few weeks is very important. The Baltimore Ravens are waiting on week one, and while the positives give the Bengals a chance, the deficiencies could kill them.