The Cincinnati Bengals lost a tough one against the New York Giants Sunday night, getting them to a rough 0-2 start to the preseason. They’re working out the kinks with a combination of rookies, backups and role players and have just one more curtain call before the regular season.
Here are the best and worst aspects of the Bengals’ 22-25 loss to the Giants in Week 2 of the preseason.
Active back end of the defense:
Clay Johnston had himself quite the night with 20 total tackles and a sack, while rookie Dax Hill had a Johnny-on-the-spot diving interception. Jalen Davis was very active with eight tackles and two passes defended and we also saw flashes from Tycen Anderson.
The secondary let up a lot of plays late in the contest, but without any starters playing in the middle and back of the defense, a lot of the young backups and role players had some solid moments.
What else can we say? It’s just preseason, but last year’s fifth-round pick is looking like one of the best ones in recent franchise history.
Following up from an outstanding rookie campaign and historic postseason performance, McPherson is still hitting a number of huge kicks, somewhat negating the concerns in the punting competition. McPherson had another 50-yarder with two others being nailed, with his only miss being from 58 yards.
Seemingly-deep running back stable:
It’s a foregone conclusion that three running back spots are sewn up with Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine and Chris Evans. The latter has had some explosive moments in the first two preseason games, highlighted by his 73-yard kickoff return on Sunday night.
Jacques Patrick is putting forth another solid audition, netting seven yards per carry against the Giants and grabbing his second touchdown of the preseason. Trayveon Williams hasn’t had the same kind of productivity, in terms of yards per carry, but he’s still showing some versatility and the knack to get into the end zone.
Solid competition for a limited number of wide receiver spots:
As it is with the running back spot, the back end of the depth chart at wide receiver has some stiff competition. Trenton Irwin, Trent Taylor, Kendric Pryor and Kwamie Lassiter II are all competing admirably for one, or possibly two spots.
Lassiter led the team with seven catches and 91 yards, while Pryor is showing that late-game knack to make solid plays. Throw in the special teams abilities and slot prowess from “The Trents” and the Bengals’ staff have tough decisions to make.
Backups keeping up with the Giants’ ones:
The Bengals were resting their starters, but the Giants were trotting out much of their starting crew through the beginning of the game. Nevertheless, Cincinnati had a 9-7 lead at halftime, despite the difference in players who received early snaps. That’s encouraging with the regular season on the horizon.
We know that the preseason can lack certain big plays because of chemistry issues and signal-callers wanting to avoid costly turnovers, but Sunday night was a bit of a snoozer from Cincinnati’s backup quarterbacks. A couple of missed throws and receivers failing to reel in a catchable ball or two littered the evening, but very few chances were taken.
Brandon Allen, Jake Browning and Drew Plitt combined for just 5.6 yards per completion and a pedestrian 80.0 rating. While there weren’t any interceptions thrown, there were also no big plays from the quarterbacks to net touchdowns. The longest completion of the night was just 18 yards (only 23 by New York) and there wasn’t much production difference from quarterback to quarterback.
Lack of pressure:
Daniel Jones threw an interception, but had a lot of time to complete 14 of his 16 pass attempts, while Davis Webb looked like a First-Team All-Pro. Cincinnati’s defense netted just one sack, and it came from Johnston, not from any of the defensive linemen.
Cam Sample had a tackle for loss and Jeffrey Gunter broke up a pass, but the pressure was inconsistent. And, at the end of the game when New York took the late lead, the lack of getting to the quarterback was a culprit for the eventual loss.
Alex Bachman is STILL making plays:
The back end of the roster getting playing time, combined with the aforementioned lack of pressure led to Bachman carving up the Bengals’ defense. He finished with 11 catches for 122 yards and two scores.
There are still some questions and concerns along the Bengals’ offensive line (who will be the starting left guard?), but the number noted above is the team’s yards per carry average through the first two games.
On Sunday, Cincinnati plodded to just 3.1 yards per carry, with Evans struggling to find creases at a 0.6 yards per carry clip. We assume this will be markedly better with the starters along the line and at running back upon the start of the regular season, but it’s still a concerning number and makes for a bland preseason watching experience.