Cincinnati Bengals’ First-Team Offense Shines in Preseason Week 2

bengalstitansGoing into preseason game number two, fans of the Cincinnati Bengals were anxiously awaiting the performance of quarterback Andy Dalton and the first team offense. That group struggled in the opener at Atlanta and took the field at Paul Brown Stadium last Saturday night again without the services of A.J. Green and Andrew Whitworth and also running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Even without those three key cogs, the offense looked much sharper in a 27-19 win over the Tennessee Titans. After a rough first series that ended in a Dalton fumble, the offense scored touchdowns on their next two drives as the Bengals showed off some of their many weapons.

One of those is rookie running back Giovani Bernard, who is already drawing comparisons to former Bengals great James Brooks. Bernard took advantage of his snaps on Saturday, carrying the ball seven times for 37 yards and making a nice catch and run on Dalton pass for a 22-yard gain.

“It feels good,” said Bernard after the game. “As a running back, whenever you’re about to get the ball, you’re excited for it. You always want the ball in your hands with the opportunity to make a big play.”

Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu showed off his strength and his hands as he caught three passes for 36 yards including a nice fade route to the corner of the end zone for a score.

“Andy saw the matchup, liked it, and threw a beautiful pass,” said Sanu. “I just did what I have been taught to do.”

“I have complete confidence in all the guys we have,” said Dalton after the game. “We have some talented guys so all I have to do is get them ball in space and let them do what they can.”

For the Bengals to be successful in 2013, Dalton doesn’t have to be a superstar, just an efficient quarterback with control of the team’s offense. On Saturday, the “Red Rifle” was 9 of 14 for 115 yards — many of those yards coming after the catch — as Bengal receivers flashed their speed and elusiveness.

The battle for the backup quarterback position didn’t get any clearer as both candidates, John Skelton and Josh Johnson, saw action and performed well, with Johnson again showing his running ability with 27 yards on five carries.

After Bernard, the running back situation got even cloudier as Daniel “Boom” Herron rattled off 81 yards on nine rushes, including a 40-yard touchdown run. Cedric Peerman also saw action in the backfield and with his ability on special teams, the cuts coming at running back could be very interesting. Special teams might also be the slight edge that Herron has over rookie Rex Burkhead.

Head coach Marvin Lewis had few complaints with his offense in his post-game news conference.

“They were pretty efficient,” Lewis said of his offensive unit. “Seeing the execution of things was what I was really pleased with.”

The offense also converted 6 of 13 third-down opportunities which also pleased the head coach.

“We had some third and medium type coverage chances and we did a good job converting them,” added Lewis. “Our tight ends had some conversions and the quarterbacks were efficient with the football. These are the types of things we need to happen.”

The Cincinnati offense will face a big test in preseason game number three, considered by many as the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. The Bengals will travel to Dallas on Saturday night where they will face a Cowboys defense that is considered one of the top units in the league.