The Bengals third preseason game came and went with an onslaught of Twitter concerns for the Bengals being expressed by many. Questions were raised about the play of quarterback, Andy Dalton, the shaky offensive line, the lack of a running game, the poor red zone performance, and the questionable secondary. Let’s take a more in depth look at each of these perspectives of the Bengals play this past Thursday and find out which aspect of the game is actually hurting the team and which are not.
The Bengals quarterbacks struggled against the Green Bay defense on Thursday; however, the play of their starters was getting the most attention by Bengals fans. Dalton did not wind up with great statistics as he went 5/17 for 40 yards. Generally, this would be a horrendous stat line and should have Bengals fans worried. However, that is not the case in this situation.
Yes, the play of the first string offense was weak, but most of that should not be attributed to the second year quarterback. Dalton was not getting any kind of help in all phases of the game. Pass protection was breaking down, the lack of the running game was allowing Packers defenders to play for the pass, and Dalton’s own receivers were not playing to their potential. Dalton had two poorly thrown balls during this preseason game. One was on a fade to the left side of the end zone intended for A.J. Green. Dalton’s pass was under thrown and it resulted in a completion. The other pass that Dalton threw poorly was a deep ball in which he over threw wide open receiver, A.J. Green.
Aside from those two throws, Dalton actually showed some great pocket awareness and the ability to escape pressure and keep his eyes down field. In fact, Dalton actually rushed for 36 yards during the game. He was forced out of the pocket quicker than normal because there were breakdowns along the offensive line starting with Andrew Whitworth, who seemed to be getting manhandled most of the game. Dalton’s receivers were not getting any separation from Packers defenders and Dalton was wise enough to not force passes into tight coverage. When Dalton did unleash the football, he was let down by a number of drops from his wide receiver corps.
There is no reason to challenge Dalton’s ability as the Bengals starting quarterback from this game. He worked with what he had and led the Bengals to two scoring drives in the first half. Dalton was able to make something out of nothing. Plenty of other quarterbacks would have faltered, however, Dalton remained calm throughout. Keep a safe distance away from the panic button on this one.