The Cincinnati Bengals opened the preseason in fine fashion Thursday night.
Here are some takeaways from a review of the game:
1. The offensive line looks better.
Of course it is just one game, but the No. 1 offensive line had a very solid night. Billy Price handled snapping like a champ and showed he can get outside as a puller, too.
The backup tackles and center left a lot to be desired, but they might have some depth at guard.
It looks like this will be a zone-run heavy team, though Brian Hill did bust off a long run (with the backups) on a counter.
2. The offense looks better, too.
Bill Lazor’s system is quarterback-friendly with a lot of short passes and quick reads.
That should be good for the offensive line as well, but more importantly it puts an onus on the playmakers to make plays.
Can they do it? So far, so good.
Joe Mixon looked good between the tackles and eluding two tacklers on the perimeter after catching a short pass.
John Ross and A.J. Green can run after the catch, and maybe Auden Tate really is a weapon of a different sort, too.
3. Andy Dalton was sharp.
The veteran quarterback was decisive and accurate, completing 6 of 8 passes for 103 yards.
Mixon helped him out on their TD connection, and John Ross and A.J. Green also had nice runs after catches to pad Dalton’s stats.
(Of course, Ross cost Dalton an interception when he fell down on a route.)
As for the backups, Jeff Driskel outplayed Matt Barkley. I don’t know if they faced similar personnel or not, but this is the outcome Bengals fans should root for because Driskel has a better arm and more mobility.
4. There wasn’t much to see from the defense.
We will probably have to wait until the regular season to see new coordinator Teryl Austin really put his mark on the scheme.
For now, that means evaluating personnel.
Geno Atkins looked like Geno Atkins.
Jordan Evans was active early.
Jesse Bates had three tackles, and I’d like to see more of what he can do.
Sam Hubbard played a lot, including inside during the two-minute drill late in the second quarter.
5. Hopefully the helmet rule call against the Bears was incorrect.
That’s the type of play that makes people wary of this new rule.
Chicago’s Demarcus Ayers certainly had his head down, but it didn’t appear he made any appreciable contact with his helmet.
Both components need to be there -- forcible contact and head down -- to draw a flag, but it’s the first week of the preseason for the officials, too.
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