The preseason may be much ado about nothing. However, Thursday night in Washington is a much different story for the Cincinnati Bengals. After a 38-17 loss in Kansas City, Taylor needs to see better execution on the offensive line, better play from his linebackers, and fewer penalties. A victory aside, it’s the kind of improvement that is momentum at the halfway point of the exhibition season.
This week should also present more identity for Taylor himself. The rookie head coach is less than four weeks away from the season opener in Seattle. After Thursday night, fans will have a pretty good idea of where this team will be on Opening Day. A good showing and reasonable optimism will abound. A bad or sloppy performance will open the door to questions Taylor probably won’t be ready to answer.
It’s a thin line the organization is walking. After three-straight losing seasons, the Bengals don’t want to use the word ”rebuild.” I get that. Dalton is still a good quarterback who can win football games. The talent on offense doesn’t run deep, but players like Mixon and A.J. Green still bring a lot to the table. The cupboard isn’t necessarily bare.
For Taylor, this is the week and the game that sets the table for what was traditionally the ”dress rehearsal” game. Week 3 that saw starters get extended playing time before the preseason finale that was about who makes the special teams squad.
Keeping things fun aside, the 2019 preseason for the Cincinnati Bengals needs to produce some tangible results, and not just “good feels”. If there is any hope for a season better than 6-10, Week 2 in Washington needs to mean something.