CINCINNATI -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Cincinnati Bengals training camp:
The results of Saturday's scrimmage inside Paul Brown Stadium were mixed, and the split followed offensive and defensive lines. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther wasn't pleased with his unit's communication. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was beside himself with glee, giddy about his starting quarterback's calm, measured and "sensational" play that capped the first week and a half of training camp. He had good reason to be happy. Andy Dalton and the first-team offense picked apart the second-team defense to the tune of 17-for-20 passing, about 200 yards passing, one touchdown and another three potential touchdowns that either were negated by borderline penalties or referee decisions. With players wearing shoulder pads and shorts, there was no tackling, so officials were just signaling about where they thought a player would be tackled.
Tight end Tyler Eifert was Dalton's favorite target. Six of the 17 completions were caught by the tight end, most of them in the seams or on some similar deep pattern. Eifert had about 120 yards receiving (these are statistics I kept while trying to chart each play from the sideline. It's tough to get exact figures). He also caught Dalton's lone touchdown pass (35-yards), and probably would have had another two had referees not marked him down short of the end zone. In a game situation, it's quite probable that he would have broken any of the single-coverage tackle attempts he faced in those situations, and would have scored. Eifert was a popular go-to for Dalton much of this week. "Our progressions are taking us to him," Jackson said. "Sometimes he's the first choice, sometimes he's the second choice and things have worked out that way. But again, that's what happens when you have good players. People are going to take A.J. [Green] away, we have to throw it to somebody else."
Green caught two passes for about 30 yards. A third, a 50-yard touchdown reception, was negated when one of the league referees on hand to teach the updated rules, called him for offensive pass interference. The NFL this season is forcing receivers into avoiding pushing off at all costs. Green, the official ruled, pushed off just before settling under the well thrown pass to the goal-line by Dalton. "I'm not changing my game," Green said. "It's going to be tough [to enforce]." When I asked Dalton if he thought it was pass interference he gave me a look that suggested he was miffed we were even discussing it. "Come on, it was a touchdown," Dalton said. "There were a couple of those where we'll have to go back and look at those and see what kind of calls they were. He did a good job of getting open and making a play."
Guenther thought his defense did a nice job of plugging running lanes and had good, tight coverage, but he wished plays and changes had been better relayed at times. The most glaring communication issue the defense had, he told me, came late in practice during a one-minute situation where his radio communicator went out as the play was getting called. "Half the guys got the call, the other half didn't," Guenther said. "That's part of why we do these things, these mock games so to speak. It's so that we can get the stuff ironed out and that we get it right."
The Bengals had several one-minute drills during the practice. During his, Dalton went 6-for-6, connecting with Eifert twice and Giovani Bernard twice more. Cobi Hamilton and Brandon Tate caught the other two passes as the offense moved the ball from midfield to within field goal range. They didn't actually attempt a kick, but coach Marvin Lewis told officials when the clock stopped at eight seconds that he would have gone for the field goal in that particular situation.
Up next: The Bengals have Sunday off before returning to action at 3 p.m. ET Monday afternoon. They will begin their first game prep of the year next week ahead of Thursday's preseason opener at Kansas City.