The Cincinnati Bengals played the Redskins on Sunday afternoon in their Week 3 dress rehearsal game. Here’s what we learned.
The game that is expected to be the most exciting of the preseason is the third battle. There were a few ups and downs in the game. But, for the most part, the Bengals’ first unit didn’t look all that bad against the first unit of the Redskins. The Bengals started off strong, finishing with a Jeremy Hill touchdown. On defense, the Bengals got a huge turnover and pick-six from Vontaze Burfict which led to a pretty nice lead in the 2nd quarter. The Bengals starters played the first half and helped the team end the half with a 14-13 lead against the Redskins, in the dress rehearsal game.
The backups played in the second half, not getting much going. They ended up scoring 3 points.
Here are the three things we learned in Week 3:
Young Defensive Ends Are The REAL DEAL
It all started on the opening drive. Chris Smith broke through and dropped Kirk Cousins for a 7-yard loss. Smith has shown all preseason that he deserves to be on the Bengals’ roster and more. Then came Carl Lawson who beat All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams for a sack on Cousins.
Lawson has impressed during training camp and has finally gotten the first sack of his NFL career. He is definitely playing better than his draft position and proving people wrong one by one. Lawson wasn’t the only rookie defensive end that made plays. Jordan Willis destroyed the tackle for a strip sack which led to good field position for the Bengals. Willis has truly shown that he belongs in the NFL and should be a starter.
Smith, Willis and even Lawson have all showed that they can play with the big boys. Consequently, the emergence of these young players is forcing some veteran players to be on the outside looking in. Michael Johnson is on watch right now with all these young defensive ends making plays. Don’t be surprised if the Bengals decide to part ways with the 30-year old defensive end.
First Unit Offense/Defense Looked Good
The Bengals’ first unit offense looked really good in the first quarter. Andy Dalton connected with A.J. Green four times, on the first offensive drive, for 43 yards. This eventually led to a 3-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Hill. One of the main things the Bengals first team offense wanted to accomplish was to score a touchdown, after not scoring one in the previous games. Joe Mixon looked quite good as well, making Josh Norman miss on one play and finishing the game with 8 carries for 31 yards. It was also exciting to finally see John Ross and Giovani Bernard on the field after rehabbing. Ross showed a bit of what he was capable of, with a jet sweep for eight yards. The offense did what it was supposed to do and showed they are capable of executing against a good team.
On the other side of the ball, the defense got stops early. They made a stand when Burfict took an interception back for a touchdown. The D got plays from young players and made key third down stops which kept the Redskins out of the end zone. Although the defense slowed down and eventually allowed a TD, they made plays to help the offense.
Offensive Line Showed Flashes
I was really impressed with the Bengals’ first unit offensive line against the Redskins’ starters. The Bengals’ offensive line as a whole has played way better than I think anyone has expected. Many figured the offensive line would struggle–and they’ve had some hiccups–but, for the most part, have played really well. I specifically watched Cedric Ogbuehi. And he made some great blocks during the run game and barely got beat in the passing game.
During the preseason, so far, Ogbuehi has truly impressed me and many fans as well. Many expected Ogbuehi would be the main weakness on the offensive line. But, he’s proved them wrong so far. If Ogbuehi and the O-line can play like they did against the Redskins, the Bengals’ offense will produce.
Although Jake Fisher struggled a bit, the offensive line as a whole played great. Andre Smith ended up being one of the more higher rated Bengals in Week 3 according to Pro Football Focus. Smith played the backup left tackle position against the Redskins and actually had a decent effort.