Sunday night, the Bengals will play preseason game three against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The EverBank Field battle will be a primetime challenge.
Preseason Week 2 was a big hit for the Cincinnati Bengals. If the Bengals-Lions game was being considered for a weekly series, last Thursday’s game was the clincher. It was good to see the Bengals come out and take control. Being able to relax and watch the home team play with a lead is always interesting. The starters were sound at Ford Field. Primetime awaits the Orange and Black when they face the Jaguars.
The first thought that comes to mind is of the Bengals dominating this game. Don’t count your matchsticks too quickly, Young Dragon. These two teams have fought a pretty even battle over the years. With a mere three-game edge, Cincinnati hasn’t outright dominated the series with Jacksonville. The teams seem to go for long stretches trading wins and losses. The Bengals currently hold a winning streak that gave them the edge.
It’s still preseason, but the games are taking on more meaning. The roster has to be trimmed and carrying dead weight isn’t an option. While analyzing the game Thursday, here are three things to keep in mind.
If Hunt is still around when the game starts, he’ll be playing all four quarters. It’s very rare to see that happen in preseason. But, Paul Guenther and Co. are trying to get a steady look at the goods. Hunt is a huge specimen of a man. He looks like he can put on a coat of animal skins and live in the wilderness. Yet, on the field, he tends to blend into the action and gets lost. He gets pushed around too much. Week 3 could be his siren song.
One of the most heartbreaking losses so far has been Andrew Billings. The man who could probably lift a food truck is recovering from a torn meniscus. The disappointment of Bengals fans was intense when his injury was reported. On the bright side, Marvin Lewis doesn’t tend to start rookies. He was going to be used as relief for Domata Peko.
The defense was sound against the Lions. The bend-but-don’t-break mentality was in effect. Cincinnati gave up a huge amount of yardage (349) but managed to keep Detroit out of the end zone. Look for the same at EverBank Field. Peko’s backups will need to step their game up. Both Pat Sims and DeShawn Williams struggled, when called upon. With Billings out, the D-line rotation will have to produce.
The secondary looks promising. But there are still too many mental letdowns. Cincinnati gave up 286 yards through the air. Marvin Jones was able to exploit one of those errors. Shawn Williams blew a coverage and Jones burned his old teammates for a huge gain. Once again, it’s still early. Hopefully what happens now won’t be a habit during the regular season.
Offensively, the Bengals looked sound. Lewis left Andy Dalton in longer than usual. The result was a Cadillac-smooth scoring drive that put the Bengals ahead for good. With two preseason games left, the offense has started to click.
Ken Zampese hasn’t quieted all of his doubters, but he’s dialing up interesting calls. His offensive coordinator pedigree is starting to shine through. Dalton and A.J. McCarron should continue to look better and better, under the new schemes and philosophies.