Due to the lockout, the 2011 NFL Preseason is probably the most important exhibition season in the history of the game. It's not so much the score that matters, as much as it is seeing how players respond to their first game action following a very weird offseason.
The preseason becomes even more important for a team like the Bengals. Of all the teams in the NFL, our Bengals are facing perhaps the most dramatic change.
Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco—the faces of the franchise for the last 7 years—are not in town.
Johnathan Joseph—perhaps our best defensive player—is gone.
We'll have a completely new starting linebacker core as Rey Maualuga moves to the middle alongside newcomers Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard.
There's a new West Coast Offense led by new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden in place for a talented, but young receiving core led by Jerome Simpson and this year's fourth overall pick A.J. Green is in place.
And then there's Andy Dalton. The rookie starting QB.
The Bengals lost their preseason opener 34-3 to the Detroit Lions, and while it was a pretty bad performance all around, there were some positives. It's never smart to over-think a preseason game (especially the first one), but with this new team, it's all we have to look at.