The Bengals beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night. But, the biggest revelation could be the start of a QB controversy. Jeff Driskel performed well.
There are a number of good things to remember about the Bengals’ 23-12 thumping of the Tampa Bay Bucs. The running game looked sound, behind an O-line that is still being shaped. The defense was able to stall Tampa’s first drive and hold them to a field goal. Tyler Eifert took the field and looked like he’s over the health issues that had him sidelined. But, one aspect of the game was a pleasant surprise. Third-string QB Jeff Driskel had a promising night.
Before we start talking about him leading the Bengals to the Big Dance, this was a Week 1 preseason game. There are factors that make Driskel look larger than life right now. This was the first time the Bucs had a chance to look at the Bengals’ new toy. There were no tendencies and favorite receivers on film. It was Driskel against the Tampa defensive coordinator. And he looked good.
Andy Dalton had a good night under the lights. Please don’t get ignorant and say it wasn’t dark enough to be considered a night game. For the sake of reasoning, it was the typical start for an NFL night battle. Dalton did what he was asked to do. He led the Bengals on a 12-play drive and all cylinders were clicking. The only blemish on his stats was the jump-route interception that Vernon Hargreaves III snatched at the goal line.
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I’ll do it. It’s fun to play around with the stats. If Dalton doesn’t let his eyes telegraph the pass to Brandon LaFell, things look mighty different. Without the INT, Dalton is 5-for-5, 38 yards, 1 TD and has a rating of 137.9. Suddenly, things look kinda good for the Ginger. But, that didn’t happen.
Instead, fans were witness to a scrambling Driskel who finished the night nearly perfect. He went 8-for-9, led the Bengals on two TD drives and finished the evening with a 148.6 passer rating. Yes, that’s not far from the perfect notch of 158.3.
Additionally, the kid can run. But, don’t start thinking he’s going to push Ken Zampese into dreams of a Michael Vick offense. That’s not how the Bengals roll. But, it was nice to see someone willing to leave the pocket when it breaks down or the play is busted. In fact, Dalton was truly impressed with Driskel’s ground game, per Bengals.com.
"“I haven’t seen a run like that from a quarterback in this league in forever. I don’t even think he realized what he did until after the fact. Everybody around here knows he has it in him. To make two guys run into each other and fall down, it’s pretty special.”"
Controversy In The Making?
Everyone knows this is Dalton’s team. The weapons have been put into place around him for the 2017 season to be a success. Yet, there has to be some licking of the chops going on with Bengals coaches. Head Coach Marvin Lewis is happy with the results.
"“He did a good job managing (the game), and he’s done a great job thus far in camp. So his first time getting out in a game, (it was) good exposure for him.”"
Overall, this doesn’t mean A.J. McCarron will be on the next red-eye to Cleveland or Denver. But, it does give the Bengals some breathing room at the position. In essence, Cincy has proven that they’re a loyal bunch when it comes to McCarron. Yet, there are teams willing to give up players or picks to get a steady QB. Looks like there could be some friendly fire in the next three preseason games.
"“Getting reps is golden,” Driskel said. “I just want to take advantage of every opportunity I get.”"
To sum up, get cha popcorn ready.