Preseason football is a sham. Starters play for a hot second and the players that take the majority of the snaps likely won’t even see the field in a regular season game this year. It’s an unquestionable and unapologetic money grab by Roger Goodell and his minions, charging full-price for a severely diminished quality of product.
It’s still football, albeit a poor excuse for it. And there is some intrinsic value in seeing players compete relatively hard against opposing players. So even though the good people of Atlanta, a land where the chicken and waffles flow like milk and honey, were subjected to a weird amount of Dominique Davis, there was still some redeeming value in the Bengals vs Falcons preseason game on ESPN last night. Well, at least in the first half. Yes, I’m pretty sure there was.
Five Things that caught my eye in the first half of Week 1 of the Preseason…
1. Despite being a Grand Caravan man myself, the unlikely minivan driver known as Giovani Bernard is going to be exciting to watch. The Bengals haven’t drafted a truly exciting running back since (gulp) Ki-Jana Carter was taken first overall in 1995. (Ed’s note: Where’s the liquor?) Bernard will likely never be a 25-30 carry-a-game back, but he flashed quickness and the fast feet that make him one of the most intriguing offensive rookies this year.
2. Look for first-round pick Tyler Eifert to be lined up in a variety of ways this season. In his first few series last night, he lined up out wide, as an H-back, and stacked in a trips package.
3. It was only one play, but the cover skills from Dre Kirkpatrick were evident early. He ran with a Falcons backup receiver step for step and put himself in a great position to make play on the ball. He didn’t end up getting an interception but Davis didn’t seem to look to his side that often after the pass breakup.
4. You’ll have to excuse my Steeler fandom, but seeing James Harrison in stripes felt almost incestuous. I was far too distracted by the jersey he was wearing to accurately judge the few snaps he played. This may take some getting used to.
5. Mike Tirico, man of high culture: After rookie linebacker Jayson DiManche recorded a first-half sack, Tirico offers this gem: “...DiManche, which some of you know is French for Sunday.” Preseason analysis is the best.
One pro tip for the road: Want to see people get unreasonably angry on Twitter? Search a few bad words and “preseason” and see eloquence at its most glorious. (Link contains bad language. Or, more accurately, Twitter contains bad language.)