After looking sharp in one series last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bengals’ first string offense looked even better in two series against the New York Jets in their preseason home opener. We got to see a nice sample size of what Dalton can hopefully continue to do all season long. He went 8-8 with 144 yards and a touchdown to Mohamed Sanu in three series. Although the Jets were without two of their starting cornerbacks, Dalton still looked like an improved quarterback, making quick decisions and hitting his receivers all over the field. Despite missing two of their starters in Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones, the Bengals offense still made some noise against the Jets.
Although there were lots of bright spots, one of the not so good things that happened Saturday night was the amount of injuries Cincinnati accumulated throughout the game. First round pick Darqueze Dennard left early with a hip injury, second round pick Jeremy Hill exited early with a shoulder injury, linebacker Vontaze Burfict also left with a shoulder injury, running back Rex Burkhead left with a knee injury and his seems to be the worst, but not season-ending. Marvin Lewis says he does not expect anyone to miss any extended time, which is good news for the Bengals.
Other than the first team offense, the offense really struggled. Backups Matt Scott and Tyler Wilson went 15 of 35, didn’t reach 100 yards, and once interception with five sacks. Scott went against the Jets’ first team defense and really had a hard time. Back up Jason Campbell didn’t play against New York due to an injury he suffered in the first preseason game against Kansas City. Dalton’s backups have not shown this preseason that they are capable of holding down a game if Dalton is ever not able to play and that has to raise some concern with offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
Another bright spot for the Bengals is their first team defense. During two preseason games, the first unit has only given up two field goals. They look like they can pick up right where they left off last season, finishing third best in the league and having a tough, deep defensive line. They have filled Michael Johnson’s spot just fine and when they get Geno Atkins back at full speed this defense will definitely be a top unit once again this year.
However, Paul Guenther was not happy with the performance of his backups on defense. He said that his guys need to study more and know what to do and when to do it, and he also put some of the blame on the coaches. He said it’s their job as coaches and pros to know what to do at all times. The first team Jets offense beat up on the second team Bengals defense Saturday and Guenther said some of his guys need to kick it into gear or they won’t find a spot on this team.
The good news is that all the starters seem to be in mid-season form and are clicking on almost every level. There are still two games left for the backups on offense and defense to get it together and prove that they deserve a spot on this team.