Cincinnati’s defense showed up big time in Tampa.
In many senses, sloppy play in the first week of preseason is to be expected. When it comes to the 2021 preseason, it may be given an extra pass in that regard, given the fact there were zero summer contests in 2020.
In the first exhibition of this year’s Cincinnati Bengals team, things were ugly on a play-by-play basis, but the overall result was what was desired. Here are the biggest winners and losers from the Bengals’ against the Buccaneers in Week 1 of the preseason.
Joseph Ossai: There were a few points of interest in an otherwise meaningless preseason game. One of those facets was the generation of a pass rush and the addition of a raw project in which the team invested in the third round of this year’s draft.
Joseph Ossai vs. Buccaneers:
22 pass-rush snaps
5 total pressures
1st among all rookies in preseason WK1 pic.twitter.com/HICcn2Ja8T
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 15, 2021
Teaming up with new free agent acquisition Trey Hendrickson, Ossai made an immediate impact by getting his first career sack against the G.O.A.T, Tom Brady. He’s raw and needs development, but the tools for a great pass-rusher are there. Here’s to hoping his wrist injury isn’t too severe.
Lou Anarumo: The Bengals have made heavy investments on the defensive side of the ball since the new Zack Taylor regime took over the past three offseasons. The hope is that “Lou’s guys” are going to bear fruit in 2021.
The aforementioned Ossai and Hendrickson flashed in limited snaps, while the others made the Buccaneers’ offense uncomfortable. The Bengals’ defense had a half-dozen passes defended and two interceptions to go along with two total sacks.
Trayveon Henderson: With the Jessie Bates contract situation in flux, it would have been nice to see backup defensive backs make plays. Henderson notched his second-career interception with the team in what was his ninth preseason game. Plays like that are why Henderson has stuck with Cincinnati since 2018.
Evan McPherson and Austin Seibert: It seems the Bengals are in a good spot on special teams. Darrin Simmons’ kicking unit was perfect on the evening, nailing all three field goal attempts (McPherson was 2-of-2 and Seibert 1-of-1) and extra points with the veteran Seibert hitting his point-after.
Darius Phillips: After a couple of offseasons with high-priced free agent cornerback acquisitions, Phillips has seen himself on on the outside looking in, so to speak. However, on Saturday, he made the most of his hybrid role on this team, notching 42 yards on two special teams returns and two other passes defended on defense.
Kavon Frazier: The secondary depth chart is largely planned out, but the guys grinding for spots, but the guys on the back end are making plays. Frazier had an interception and led the team with three total tackles.
Brandon Allen: The front-runner for Cincinnati’s second-string quarterback job had an interception on the stat line (more on that in a minute), but he showed a lot of flashes. The interception was off of a tip from a catchable ball, and finished 7-of-10 for 77 yards.
Jacques Patrick: Going into the fourth quarter, Patrick didn’t have a big stat line. However, the team relied on him to close things out, and he responded. He finished with 15 carries for 71 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and a touchdown.
Zac Taylor: The embattled head coach needed to start off 2021 on a positive note, regardless of the nuances of preseason. Getting a win on the road against the Super Bowl champs is a nice start, even for a largely meaningless result.
Darius Hodge: The undrafted free agent out of Marshall was a big surprise, as he racked up 1.5 sacks, five QB hits, and several other pressures. Depending on the injury status of Joseph Ossai, Hodge could quickly go from outside the roster bubble to seeing a significant role within this defense off the edge.
The uniforms: It was our first look at the “New Stripes”—namely the new black uniforms. Against the new white pants, it looked great for an “away” uniform.
Samaje Perine: The running game didn’t get going until late and the Cincinnati staff likes what Perine brings, but it was a rough first outing for him in 2021. The veteran had three carries for five yards and a lost fumble against the Bucs.
Mitchell Wilcox: The tight end position is a bit in flux and there are spots to be grabbed, but a promising 2020 undrafted free agent had a rough night. Wilcox has some nice receiving skills, but finished with just two catches for zero yards. Yikes.
Kyle Shurmur: While he had the football and control of the offense late in the game, it wasn’t the prettiest of results on Saturday from the third-string quarterback. He finished 12-of 19 for 108 (9.0 yards per completion) yards and an interception.