Bengals vs Broncos: 4 Reasons to Be Upbeat Following Cincinnati's 24-22 Loss
I'll be the first to admit it, last night was tough to watch at times.
The Bengals put in a performance that left a lot to be desired, and at times really did show just how young a side they are.
It's easy to slate Cincy, and there's no end to the number of things they need to work on, but we know that. We know that it's a work in progress, and that these things take time.
For a team that many thought wouldn't even win a game, there are a lot of positives to be taken from these first two weeks.
With that in mind, here's a few reasons to be upbeat following the Bengals 24-22 loss at Mile High stadium.
Jay Gruden's Offense Racked Up 382 Yards of Total Offense
For a team that was considered to be an offensive write-off before the season began, with the lockout being pointed at as a reason why the Bengals wouldn't be able to get things going on offense, last nights display was a real statement from the young Bengals.
Jay Gruden just partook in his second regular season gig as offensive coordinator, and to get 328 yards in these circumstances was a real delight.
When you factor in just how little time Gruden has had to get the team acquainted with his system, they certainly showed progress last night.
It's just a shame that the old Bengals storyline of not performing until you're down by 10+ points was yet again the catalyst for progress.
A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson Got Involved
In the season opener at Cleveland Browns Stadium, both A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson failed to make a significant impression beyond Green's gift of a touchdown.
Both Bruce Gradkowski and Andy Dalton struggled to get the young receiving tandem involved to any significant extent, with Ced Benson looked to often.
Things changed in Denver, and the stalled Bengals passing game came roaring into life as Simpson and Green put up a combined 260 yards receiving off of 14 receptions.
Those voices murmuring about A.J. Green's slow start in the NFL were silenced following his sensational touchdown grab that has to rank as one of the greatest in Bengals history.
It's reassuring to see Andy Dalton move away from an over-reliance on Jermaine Gresham. His ability to spread the ball around was great to see and is integral to his development.
Andy Dalton Threw for 332 Yards, Looked Like a Leader
Looks like Cam Newton isn't the only rookie putting up big yards in 2011. Dalton quietly racked up 332 passing yards on Sunday, and impressed in his decision-making skills and his poise in the pocket.
Dalton goes through his progressions like a veteran, staying calm under pressure and taking his time. It's a real positive in only his second game as Bengals starter, and although he throws high balls, and launched some real clunkers, overall his potential outweighs his faults.
One of the most inspiring aspects of Dalton's performance was his leadership. In the face of a big deficit in the games latter stages, Dalton rallied the team in a manner that Carson Palmer hadn't for years.
He is showing real growth after only six quarters of football, and you have to be pleased with how he has stayed cool despite setbacks.
His highlight of the day came on an 84-yard completion to Jerome Simpson on 2nd & 23, capped off by A.J. Green's showstopping touchdown grab.
Winning the Turnover Battle Again
The Bengals played turnover free football again on Sunday, something that became an issue in the preseason, and so improvement in that aspect of their game comes as welcomed relief.
Not only did Cincy protect the ball, but they managed to produce two turnovers off of forced fumbles.
While the Bengals couldn't turn those turnovers into a win, takeaways of that nature can be game-changing, especially for a young offense in need of a helping hand from their defense whenever possible.
If the Bengals defense can continue to to force turnovers, the Bengals have the ability to be in every one of their next six match ups.
With the defense trying to live up to the lofty standard of the 2009 team, things like forced fumbles become great confidence builders. While their play was erratic once again in Denver, the defense will get a boost out of seeing what they have the potential to produce week-in, week-out.