Bengals: Preseason Week 2 Takeaways

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Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) and wide receiver A.J. Green (18) in a preseason NFL football game against the New York Giants at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Individual Perfomances: Offense

The Bengals’ offense was disappointing at almost every position. But since we’re talking about the Bengals, Andy Dalton will be the counterpoint of the discussion, especially given that Cincinnati was manhandled. There weren’t many great performances on the offensive side of the ball; only scoring eleven points, giving up a safety and only gaining 152 total yards, Cincinnati’s offense was a mess.

Quarterback

Andy Dalton will likely draw a fair share of the blame for Cincinnati’s three turnovers, but he was really only responsible for one of those. Don’t think I’m trying to defend Dalton, however; his performance against Tampa Bay was abysmal. He completed just six of his thirteen passes for a completion percentage of just 0.46. He was picked off twice and didn’t even throw a touchdown pass. Dalton didn’t seem to test the defense downfield enough and when he did test the defense downfield, he was intercepted. Dalton had a couple of positives though; he made a nice throw–preventing a Buccaneers safety–and found Green on a couple of nice passes. Dalton’s performance was a mixed bag, but the performance was definitely more negative than positive.

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A.J. McCarron finally made his NFL preseason debut, but his debut was pretty unspectacular. Completing 11 of his 15 passes for 97 yards, the former Alabama quarterback made a few plays–including a nice drive down the field for Cincinnati’s only touchdown–but didn’t show enough to warrant competition with Andy Dalton. McCarron was too eager to run when he didn’t see an open receiver and looked like he lacked patience. However, he recorded a three-yard run on one play in which no one was open.

Running Back

Jeremy Hill scared Cincinnati fans tonight with his first fumble of the preseason. With five fumbles in 2014, Hill needs to start protecting the football to prove his reliability to coaches. Despite this, Hill racked up 16 yards on just four carries; his performance wasn’t spectacular but the fumble is a huge concern.

Giovani Bernard, like Hill, was unspectacular. He gained eight yards on three carries and caught a seven-yard pass. Bernard looks like he’ll be the starting punt returner, but he has yet to make any big plays in the return game so far during the preseason.

Rex Burkhead and Cedric Peerman look like roster locks; however, the two backs are on the team more for their special teams abilities and pass-catching abilities than their actual abilities to take the ball out of the backfield. Both players recorded a carry each, Burkhead’s going for a yard and Peerman’s going for a negative yard. Peerman, however, led the team in catches, with four; those four catches went for 19 yards. Burkhead added a two-yard catch. Burkhead, however, missed a block when lined up as a fullback that resulted in a safety.

James Wilder Jr. and Terrell Watson look like practice squad players, although either of the two could get snatched up by any running back-needy team. Wilder Jr. took two carries for 14 yards and a touchdown, while Watson didn’t see the field.

Wide Receiver

Aug 24, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Green did not look like an elite receiver tonight; although he caught two passes for 24 yards, he dropped a pass that resulted in a pick-six. Andy Dalton will take a lot of heat for the play, but the interception was completely on Green.

Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones saw the field, although neither player made much of an impact. Sanu caught a six-yard pass, while Jones drew a pass interference call on a deep route downfield. Both of these guys need to step up during the regular season and prove that they are dangerous in the passing game.

Brandon Tate haters should be concerned; Tate looks like he’ll be the team’s starting kick returner over Mario Alford. And although he was unimpressive in the return game, Tate had a beautiful block on a wide receiver screen pass to Greg Little; Tate’s hit took opposing safety D.J. Swearinger out of the game.

Greg Little looks like he’ll be the Bengals’ fourth receiving option; he took a screen pass for a 14-yard gain after a great performance in Week 1 against the Giants.

Denarius Moore also figures to make the team, although he did not make much of an impact on MNF. He’s a player to watch in the next two preseason games, as he looks to overtake Little for the fourth receiver position. If he can’t put up a fight, Moore could be cut.

Mario Alford dropped an easy pass, but he made up for it with a nice 19-yard punt return. He had reliable hands in camp before the game, so it will be interesting to see if Cincinnati utilizes him in the passing game this season.

Jake Kumerow had three catches that went for 42 yards; he figures to make the practice squad and looks like a solid player.

Tight End/H-Back:

Tyler Eifert caught a seven-yard pass, which looked like good news until he took a huge hit–to his previously injured elbow–from D.J. Swearinger. Despite the scare, Eifert got up and should be fine; he’s a player to watch for in the next couple of weeks, just to ensure that he stays healthy for the season.

Tyler Kroft finally saw some action, catching two passes for 20 yards. He was utilized in the run game early on, so he could see a lot of action this season in two-tight end sets.

C.J. Uzomah was a non-factor tonight; although he didn’t see any action, he should make the 53-man roster.

Offensive Line:

The offensive line play was atrocious–it was by far the worst play of any position group in tonight’s game. Andrew Whitworth was the only linemen who didn’t get humiliated; Clint Boling, Russell Bodine, Kevin Zeitler and Eric Winston all gave up big plays and lost in their respective matchups. Sure, Zeitler had to block Gerald McCoy, but he’s supposed to be a Pro Bowl-caliber offensive guard. He needs to step up his game if he wants a big extension in the upcoming offseason. Eric Winston’s struggles were expected, but Bodine’s are not tolerated. Bodine needs to be more consistent or the Bengals will find a way to replace him. Dalton was sacked multiple times, and the running game couldn’t get going.

And the backups weren’t much better. Although they weren’t humiliated like the starters, a few of the backups gave up key penalties, missed blocks and made mental errors. These types of plays aren’t acceptable for guys trying to make the 53-man roster.

Next: Defense

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