Cardinals @ Bengals
Final Score: Cardinals 36, Bengals 23
Writer: Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter, u/truebest on Reddit)
The Bengals and Cardinals opened up the preseason by sitting virtually all of their starters, and even many of their backups.
For Cincinnati, kicker Evan McPherson looked just as elite as he did last season, burying a 58-yarder and a 56-yarder while also drilling a kickoff through the uprights. The Bengals offensive line looked bad with mainly the backups playing, with numerous penalties, missed assignments, and lapses. It was an especially rough day for Jackson Carman, the only Bengals offensive starter that played.
Half speed. Eyes on 79 at LG. pic.twitter.com/ZOUesgT55U
— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) August 13, 2022
Carman is competing with fourth-round rookie Cordell Volson for the starting left guard spot and Volson played admirably in his work during the second half. Carman may lose work to Volson as the preseason progresses. Overall, the depth of this Bengals line looks shaky if anything happens to the starting unit.
For Arizona, nearly every meaningful skill position player sat this one out outside of the offensive line, including backup quarterback Colt McCoy. 38-year-old Matt Prater missed two extra points and looked a little shaky on a few others.
The Cardinals led this game throughout and poured on points at the end of the first half, taking a 23-9 lead at intermission. The Bengals had the final score of the game, making this one look a little closer than it actually was.
Trace McSorley: 13/22, 163 yards, 1 TD, 2 Sacks | 4 carries, 32 yards
Jarrett Guarantano: 7/10, 54 yards, 1 TD, 1 Sack | 4 carries, 10 yards
With Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy both sitting out the preseason opener, Trace McSorley started for the Cardinals and played a majority of the snaps at quarterback. The opening drive was extended on a deep pass interference penalty, and later on 3rd and 1, McSorley completed a play-action rollout pass for a touchdown. McSorley is relatively athletic and mobile for a quarterback, receiving multiple designed runs and draws throughout the game. He broke a sack on poor tackling and hit a big downfield open throw on a third down, and later had a long run for nearly a touchdown, but he was stopped just short of the goal line. His athleticism isn’t game-breaking, but it played well in a preseason game full of vanilla coverages and he might be a low-end streamer due to his rushing ability if he ever developed enough to get spot starts as a backup.
— NFL (@NFL) August 13, 2022
It wasn’t all positive for McSorley, who nearly threw an interception on 3rd and 6 in the end zone to Bengals’ rookie Dax Hill on a nice defensive play. Later McSorley had a dangerous pass over the middle broken up by Hill once again. McSorley also took a sack trying to get into field goal range towards the end of the half. Against the starting defense in a regular season game, McSorley’s athleticism likely would have been less pronounced, and his lack of arm talent may have led to some interceptions.
Jarrett Guarantano played in the second half and ran the offense just fine for the most part. His game appears to be mainly based on his mobility, but had just 5.4 yards per passing attempt and rushed for only 10 yards on 4 carries. The offense was much more based on the run game in the second half.
Eno Benjamin: 5 carries, 14 yards | 1 target
Jonathan Ward: 6 carries, 15 yards, 2 TDs | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 26 yards
Keaontay Ingram: 7 carries, 27 yards, 1 TD | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 18 yards
Eno Benjamin was the first running back in the game with James Conner and Darrel Williams sitting out. He received several carries but didn’t flash on any of them, and Benjamin worked well into the second quarter. Arizona tried to give him a screen pass but the play had no chance at completion as the Bengals’ defense was all over it. Benjamin didn’t do anything to obviously hurt his stock but didn’t impress either.
Jonathan Ward was in on the second drive and had a nice reception on a screen pass. He converted two short goalline touchdowns that were unremarkable, but it is worth noting his role if injuries strike in-season.
Sixth-round rookie Keaontay Ingram entered the game in the second half and impressed in his NFL debut. He had a nice catch and run on 3rd and 1 play-action bootleg pass. Later that drive he had another catch on a check down. Ingram displayed good feet and some power and looked natural catching passes. He had a really nice shifty cut and move upfield in the red zone, and later had an easy goalline touchdown as the offensive line overpowered the defense. Ingram is worth keeping an eye on after impressing in his limited work, although it is worth noting that he was playing in the second half of a preseason game where the Bengals played none of their starters.
Working on my What We Saw writeup for @TheQBlist of the Bengals/Cardinals preseason opener.
Rookie RB Keaontay Ingram looked good! Disclaimer- he didn't play until the 2nd half in a game full of backups.
But Ingram had some nice moments, like this strong run in the red zone. pic.twitter.com/piZVwlKg30
— Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL) August 14, 2022
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Greg Dortch: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 53 yards, 1 Fumble (0 Lost)
Andy Isabella: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 57 yards
Victor Bolden: 1 target, 1 reception, 15 yards | 1 carry, 6 yards
Deon Yelder: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 18 yards
Jontre Kirklin: 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards, 1 TD
Andre Baccellia: 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards, 1 TD
Greg Dortch was targeted throughout the game, starting with a long catch over a backup corner down the sideline. The rest of his six targets went for just 21 yards. Dortch also had a really nice punt return of 55 yards and looked like a useful role-player overall.
Andy Isabella played all game, which is likely a bad sign for his overall outlook in the offense considering that none of the starters played. He was consistently targeted and produced the occasional catch and was still playing late in the fourth quarter. One of his targets was incomplete on a contested catch opportunity, and while it was a tough catch it was one that he had a shot at making.
Victor Bolden returned a kick, got an end around, and had a tough catch in the red zone where he took a shot and held on. The rest of the receivers and tight ends failed to make much of an impact.
Brandon Allen: 3/3, 29 yards, 1 Sack
Jake Browning: 13/24, 190 yards, 2 Sacks, 3 Fumbles (1 Lost) | 4 carries, 14 yards
Drew Plitt: 6/6, 76 yards | 1 carry, 7 yards
Brandon Allen played one series, took a sack, and suffered a concussion. He will remain the Bengals’ backup quarterback barring his return to health.
Jake Browning entered the game for the second drive after Allen was concussed, and played a lot more than was likely anticipated. Browning was slow on a first and goal to the tight end for an incompletion that was a bit dangerous. He and the center later lost a snap that set up a short field for the Cardinals. Browning was sacked and fumbled on 3rd down at the end of the half but the Bengals recovered it. He forced multiple throws into double-coverage, often looking for Kendric Pryor as the intended receiver. Browning had a dangerous pass fall incomplete and was then strip-sacked while scrambling on back-to-back plays, though the Bengals recovered again. On the next play, the offensive line was called for holding. Browning was under siege most of the day as the line struggled and he lacked playmakers at receiver. He did have a long crazy scramble for a first down, and showed some rapport with Trent Taylor, but he didn’t show anything to change the Bengals opinion of him as the QB3.
Drew Plitt took over on the last drive as a feel-good story and Ohio Native out of Ball State University, and Plitt immediately started feeding Pryor. He stepped up in the pocket and scrambled for a first, and later had a nice touch pass for a touchdown to Pryor.
Chris Evans: 8 carries, -3 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards
Trayveon Williams: 6 carries, 14 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards
Jacques Patrick: 9 carries, 30 yards, 1 TD | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 39 yards
Chris Evans‘ day was a lot better than the box score showed. He flashed a shifty move for a huge run on the first play for Cincinnati where he impressed with his speed on a 60 yard run. Unfortunately, that run was called back on a hold by Thaddeus Moss. Evans had a reception negated on another holding call, but the Bengals went back to him for a dump-off the next play. Evans was back in to start the second drive, where he was stuffed in the backfield with no chance to work. He looked patient on another up-the-middle run, though he didn’t necessarily push the pile at the end of the run. Evans later sprung a red zone play outside for a touchdown, which was naturally called back on another holding by Moss. Evans also had a really nice kick return deep from the endzone, another chance to showcase his speed. He was still getting rushes to start the second half, but often had no room to operate on the ground. Overall Evans was very impressive as a potential pass-catching compliment to Joe Mixon, though he didn’t show much tackle-breaking ability that would be needed for a true three-down role.
LOOK AT CHRIS EVANS SCOOT pic.twitter.com/vDpPhCgPJP
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 13, 2022
Trayveon Williams was in right after Evans’ long run on the first drive and mixed in throughout the game. Williams took most of the volume work in the first half and was still getting work late in the third quarter. His only noteworthy play was late in the game on a nice broken tackle and run on a reception.
Jacques Patrick was the next running back in the game and had a busted coverage downfield catch for almost all of his receiving work. Patrick had three chances to score at the goalline later in the game and barely got in on the third try. Patrick is a big, tall running back that merely looks like a depth player at this point.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Trent Taylor: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 74 yards
Kendric Pryor: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 89 yards, 1 TD
Thaddeus Moss: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 29 yards
Trenton Irwin: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards
Kwamie Lassiter II: 2 targets, 1 reception, 5 yards
Trent Taylor looked good in this game and likely is the most interesting option for the Bengals as their WR4 behind their elite starting trio. Taylor had two early catches with the second one coming downfield off of a play-action pass with contact at the catch. He had another catch on the second drive of the game, this time over the middle where he does much of his work. As their most trusted punt returner, Taylor has shown flashes of being a capable slot fill-in if needed, and this game was no exception.
This catch by Trent Taylor was insane 🤯pic.twitter.com/1g31NNeABh
— Bengals Nation (@BengalsNationCP) August 13, 2022
Kendric Pryor had an excellent sideline catch on a scramble and throw from Browning. Later he missed one down the sideline that was out of reach but made a nice effort on the play. Pryor impressed on another contested catch over the middle on a questionable decision from Browning. Multiple times he fought for the ball on poor decisions in traffic from his quarterback and displayed good body control. His highlights of the day came late, with an excellent one-handed catch while turning his body on the final drive. Shortly after, he beat his man for a late touchdown from 25 yards out. Pryor is listed as just 5’11” and 187 pounds, but he played bigger than his frame would indicate. I don’t know if Pryor has a future on the Bengals or not, but he did everything within his power today to carve out a roster spot.
KENDRIC PRYOR. What a catch! @Bengals
— NFL (@NFL) August 13, 2022
Kwamie Lassiter II was the first in for punt returns as he battles a roster spot. He did little to make coaches take notice, but there were no glaring mistakes either. Trent Irwin had a nice contested sideline catch and has shown some ability when given the opportunity.
Thaddeus Moss played often at tight end and converted a 3rd and 2 with a catch, and later followed it up with a downfield sideline catch. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, he also committed a holding call on two key running plays early in the game.