Bengals vs Buccaneers: What we learned from preseason Week 1

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CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 11: Tra Carson #33 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs for a 16-yard gain against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third quarter of a preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 11, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 11: Tra Carson #33 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs for a 16-yard gain against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third quarter of a preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 11, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Week 1 of the preseason is in the books for the Bengals. Now, it’s time to take a look at what stood out against Tampa Bay.

The sky didn’t fall and there wasn’t an earthquake of mammoth proportions. But, football was back at Paul Brown Stadium and the Bengals were victorious. After a long wait, fans were treated to a 23-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There were things to be happy about and a few concerns that need to be addressed. But, overall, the Bengals were able to escape with the W.

It wasn’t an explosive type of night for the Bengals’ offense. But, they got the job done and move on to the next challenge.

Oftentimes, fans are ready to see the final product in Week 1 action. Um, no. That’s not how it works. There are going to be packages and players added and swapped until the whole unit is working in perfect harmony. Many times, that can linger into the first week of the regular season. So far, it looks like the Bengals won’t be needing any added time to sort out the details. Now that we have that clear, on to what we learned Friday.

Mixon Is The Real Deal 

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He was finally unleashed and didn’t fail to satisfy. Maybe the Bengals should call him Snickers. Yeah…that was bad. But, what wasn’t bad was his performance on the gridiron. Mixon looked like the back that fans were hoping for. He was patient finding the holes created by the line and hit them on time. There was no hesitation to his decisions and he made the most of them.

Although he ended his time with six carries, Mixon racked up 31 yards. Running the rock for 5.2 yards per carry ain’t a bad showing. He carried the ball with authority and looked at home within the scheme of the offense.

Mixon’s run, after catching a pass in the flat, was spectacular. He was able to make defenders miss and squeeze out those extra yards that are so precious. In comparison to Jeremy Hill’s night, he was a breath of fresh air. No, I’m not handing Hill a pink slip. But, the youngster looks powerful and hungry.

The O-line Will Be Fine

If this doesn’t come to pass, I’ll politely take a plate of roasted crow. But, the offensive line looks like it can stand the heat. Granted, it was the Bucs. Yet, there was no serious heat on Andy Dalton as he was in with the first team line. Trey Hopkins filled in for Andre Smith and proved to be more than capable. Again, it’s just the first game of the preseason. With that being said, things could break down when the Kansas City Chiefs roll into the Jungle.

There aren’t as many stunts, blitz packages and exotic fronts during the preseason. At best, the plays are vanilla and coaches are more concerned with the players and their techniques. As the weeks roll on, the O-line will see added pressure. If they can handle the fire, then things should be fine. Line coach Paul Alexander will find a way to get the Big Uglies into the right frame of mind.

With Smith missing and Christian Westerman getting a few snaps, the line didn’t falter. Now, it’s all about keeping that skill set throughout the rest of the season. Dalton was pleased with the early effort.

"“I thought our line did a great job,” Dalton commented per Bengals.com. “I had time. They made it easy for me to step in and make the throws.”"

How ‘Bout Dat Driskel

Okay, okay. I won’t go into hysterics about the young gun. But Jeff Driskel could cause a few nightmares for opposing defenses.

As I said before, it’s just Week 1 of a long preseason. Yet, the facts and stats are there for all to see. Driskel looked like an NFL quarterback. After being on the Bengals’ shelf since last season, it was encouraging to see him play at that level.

Next: Controversy In The Air?

Of course, now that the secret is out, teams will prepare for Driskel and have a nice surprise in store. You know, like putting a spy on him. If he’s able to continue the great play with added pressure, he’s the real deal.

With such a good showing, there’s likely to be talk of him pushing Dalton and A.J. McCarron. There’s nothing wrong with a little competition. That seems to be the theme of this year’s training camp. The Bengals’ added depth is a welcome problem to have.

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