Posted: 12:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, 2013
By Josh Kirkendall
Of the possible positions that remain up for grabs for one reason or another, the least uncertain has to be Josh Johnson, who will most likely secure his role as the team's backup quarterback this weekend.
But if you look at the stat sheet, it doesn't stand out as much as one would expect. Of the three quarterbacks that played for Cincinnati during the preseason, Johnson had the worst completion percentage (55.1 percent), passer rating (83.3) and average yards per attempt (5.6). His 1.9 first down per drive average was the lowest and the threat of turnovers seemed to accelerate some concern -- though the Bengals were -5 in the turnover ratio this preseason, second-to-worst (Chargers, -7).
However, there's one consistent result when Josh Johnson played. When he's under center, the offense scores points. Of the 18 possessions that Johnson led during the preseason, the Bengals scored nine times (five touchdowns, four field goals). The offense generated a higher yard/play average (5.9) than Andy Dalton and John Skelton -- but the Dalton comparison is mute considering that he played most of his snaps against the opposition's best defensive players.
In the end, it was quickly apparent that Johnson was their guy -- unless he mysteriously lost the job, which he didn't do. Unfortunately for Skelton, he was never really given a shot. He played only two possessions against the Falcons and three against the Titans as the first backup. Due to the team's limited number of offensive snaps, Skelton didn't play against the Cowboys and he moped up the second half against the Colts.
It was almost ridiculous to include backup quarterback as our round table discussions for the projected 53-man roster. His history with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who was an assistant coach when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Johnson, helped. Maybe even sealed it before it started. Gruden has even talked about using Johnson in various packages this year.
"We ran (the read-option) maybe one or two times last year," Gruden said. "We'll see how it goes and where everyone is, but you could definitely see Josh doing some of that. The zone read certainly gets the numbers in favor of the offense. It's good to be able to show something a little different if he was your No. 2 and he had to go into the game. The big thing he has to do is get the basics of what we do first, and then it may be kind of fun to look at."
If we were a news channel during election night, we'd go ahead and call it. Obviously, anything could happen. But we're not seeing it.