With lots of talk surrounding the Bengals new $100 million quarterback, much had been forgotten about, meaning the addition of new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.
In preseason game number one, the Bengals faced the Kansas City Chiefs in their hostile home of Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs coming off a playoff appearance in 2013, finishing 11-5 were looking to come out strong. With a game full of high scoring, stadium announcers drowning out the TV announcers, and Bengals backup QB Matt Scott vomiting before throwing a touchdown, what are some of the key points to Thursday’s opener?
1) The Bengals started the game on defense and immediately forced a 3 and out.
Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict set the tone early with two big hits, one preventing a first down on third down. Defensively, the Bengals looked promising, forcing turnovers, including a pick six by third year cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick who fans feel like this is a make or break year for him. Once the starters left, rookie first round pick Darqueze Dennard immediately made an impact sacking Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel. He later left when he and teammate Shawn Williams collided trying to make a tackle. Dennard appeared to have the wind knocked out of him and was cleared to return, however the Bengals did not put him back in the game.
2) The Bengals offense came out and immediately fired off the ball.
They started their first drive deep in their own territory and were able to move the ball at will. The highlight was Andy Dalton connecting on a deep bomb to A.J. Green for 53 yards. Dalton threw the deep ball with a man in his face, and connected right on target with Green. The dynamic of the Bengals offense seemed to be short plays setup the long bombs. This could bode well for the Bengals, because this is an offense that is easier to manage from Dalton’s standpoint. The drive, however, stalled after Dalton missed Tyler Eifert in the back of the end zone and could not connect a pass to a well covered Mohammed Sanu. Overall the Bengals first drive was crisp and promising.
3) Special Teams struggled to say the least early on and throughout the game.
It’s interesting to note that the Bengals changed coordinators but not Special Teams, yet they looked the worst. Punter Kevin Huber was not kicking the ball nearly as well as Bengaldom is used to, and the returners did not have many yards to speak of. Kicker Mike Nugent connected on all of his tries and consistently placed the ball either out of the end zone or to the back of the end zone on kickoffs. It is safe to say the Special Teams play stood out and not in a good way.
4) A lot has been made about the Bengals depth, and during Thursday’s game it was on display.
Backup quarterback Jason Campbell, a 10 year veteran, left a lot to be desired in the backup position. Campbell was erratic at times and threw two questionable interceptions, that aren’t expected from someone who came from Hue Jackson’s offense in Oakland. ESPN Bengals writer Coley Harvey mentioned via twitter that Campbell has not looked good in practice the past few days and it is reflecting on the field.
Another Jason Campbell pick-6. Again, we’ve seen that a couple of times in the last week in camp. He really telegraphed that one, too.
— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) August 8, 2014
With a scoring showcase, final score 41-39 KC, it is difficult to evaluate individual play unless it sticks out. Campbell can easily feel the heat with quarterback Matt Scott playing well and rookie A.J. McCarron from Alabama still waiting to make his NFL debut.
5) Rookie Center Russell Bodine made his preseason debut.
As the center and focal point of the Bengals offensive line, he drew a lot of attention. Bodine struggled with the shotgun snap as he has done all training camp, but he did well making line calls and picking up blitzes. Overall it’s about what anyone can expect from a 4 year college starter and now rookie.
As the preseason goes on, the wide receiver position will certainly be heating up. There is a lot of talent to go around, and probably too much. All of the receivers who are vying for that final spot on the roster really played well and put the Bengals in some tough decisions ahead. As for the improvements, Head Coach Marvin Lewis said it best after the game. He said, “the standards don’t change, and either guys play to our standard or they don’t play.” Moving forward, look for the play to get better all around as it looks like the Cincinnati Bengals have a good team that should improve over the next 3 weeks, and eliminate the mistakes seen in the first preseason game. Most importantly, the Bengals walked out of Kansas City injury free and welcome the New York Jets back to the Jungle for preseason game number two, August 16th.