Questions, concerns still arise from pre-season

For everyone out there worrying about the Bengals sub-par preseason, let me please remind yourself that the preseason games in which the boys (well, the defense really) have looked like anything but AFC Title contenders, don’t count.

That’s not to say there aren’t things to worry about. Actually, we should have sounded the alarm last Monday when Joey Harrington looked like Joe Montana. Was Harrington’s signing with Atlanta a turning point in Harrington’s career? Perhaps. Was it because he was air-raiding the league’s worst pass defense in 2006 and doesn’t expect to be leaps and bounds better in 2007? The latter is closer than the former.

Everyone wins in the preseason when no one snaps a leg or blows out a knee. It’s truly nice to see the headlines that don’t read “Ki-Jana Carter’s career likely over after suffering devastating knee injury.”

The offense, on the other hand, will score. A lot. It have to. On a good day, the Bengals are mediocre. On a bad day, the offense scores 41 points while the D gives up 42 second-half points. See November’s devastating loss to San Diego for further reference.

Although the preseason is just that, don’t expect the Bengals defense to be much better in the regular season than it is now. Thankfully, no one suffered major injuries. On the flip side, they have shown little improvement, especially in the pass defense. Personally, I am not going to expect Leon Hall to have a monster rookie season like Odell Thurman.

But then again, who would have thought Odell would have the rookie season he did back in 2005 before he made a laundry list of bad decisions that crushed his career?

However, last Monday’s “dress rehearsal” against a Falcons team whose minds were probably more focused on Michael Vick’s demise than the actual football game, still decimated the Bengals defense. Albeit a preseason game, even Joey Harrington looked like a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback.

Though this is only preseason. Let’s not forget that Indianapolis looked as bad as the Bengals did in the 2006 preseason. Is this Bengals team as good as last year’s Colts? In a word, no.

But the 2006 season showed how meaningless those four little games are in the grand scheme of things. The Bengals went 4-0, went to Indy, and got crushed and missed the playoffs. The Colts, on the other hand, lost all four preseason games, indirectly bounced the Bengals from the playoffs, and rolled to a world championship.

Again, the 16 games that matter most happen from mid-September until the end of the year, not in August and early September.