The Cincinnati Bengals, pseudo-rivals to the Steelers in the AFC North, are having an alarming preseason so far. First, they got beaten 34-3 by the Detroit Lions. Now, as I write this at around 9:00 PM Sunday night, they're down 20-7 to the New York Jets.â†µ
Now, preseason scores don't mean a whole lot, and it would be foolish to draw any conclusions from those alone. After all, the Steelers themselves struggled through their first preseason game against the Washington Redskins. It's how the Bengals are losing that should be alarming. Rookie Andy Dalton, who the Bengals are hoping will replace disgruntled former starter Carson Palmer in a they-both-have-red-hair-so-hopefully-no-one-will-notice sort of way, started the game and ... well, I'll let Cincy Jungle describe it.
A three-and-out to start the game isn't that bad. It happens. Yet when passes weren't overthrown, A.J. Green missed catchable passes and even Jerome Simpson's timing was off. And when the Bengals went three-and-out during their third drive of the game, the possession opened with a fumble exchange between Dalton and Cedric Benson that lost 17 yards. Compounding the situation, the team was flagged for illegal substitution. Dalton underthrows, wide right, left and an overthrown pass to Andre Caldwell led to a Jim Leonard interception that setup New York's field goal.â†µ
Ouch. Dalton was hardly the only one struggling here, but since he's a new quarterback, the spotlight will be on him. He did end up piecing together a drive at the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second that led to a touchdown, but his final line (it appears he's done now) is 8-for-19, 86 yards, two interceptions, and a fumble. Dalton is, again, a rookie, and certainly, there's the potential for rookies to get better as the preseason goes on. Bengals fans have to hope Dalton realizes that potential, and that some of his teammates do too.