Time for Bengals to Panic?
The Cincinnati Bengals, last year’s AFC champions, and a team widely considered to be a Super Bowl contender, opened the season with 2 consecutive losses. One came to the Mitchell Trubisky-led Pittsburgh Steelers, and the other to the Cowboys, who were without their franchise quarterback, Dak Prescott. Both games ended in game-winning field goals, one in overtime and one in the waning seconds of regulation.
The Bengals opened the season with high hopes as they are led by Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon and the three-headed monster for a receiving core, featuring the 2021 NFL season’s Rookie of the Year, Ja’Marr Chase, Clemson product Tee Higgins, and veteran Tyler Boyd. The one remaining question from the 2021 team’s roster was the offensive line that largely caused the Bengals loss in the Super Bowl, a game in which Burrow was sacked nine times
The Bengals’ offensive line got a full revamp, replacing 4 of the 5 starters on the line. The only remaining starter is the left tackle Jonah Williams. The Bengals’ starting line is now composed of: left guard Cordell Volson, rookie from NDSU, center Ted Karra, who came over from The Patriots; right guard Alex Cappa, who won a ring with the Buccaneers in 2020; and lastly, right tackle La’el Collins, a former Dallas Cowboy. This “rebuild” led the media to believe the unit would no longer be the handicap it once was.
To put into perspective how bad the line was, Joe Burrow was sacked 70 times across the entirety of the 2021 season. He was sacked 51 times in just the regular season (led the league), and he was sacked 9 times in their divisional meeting against the Tennessee Titans, which was a playoff record. The abysmal play of their line limited Zac Taylor’s playbook, and put a cap on the total output of the offense.
All of those issues made Bengals fans ecstatic when they had “overhauled” their line. All of the new talent being implemented didn’t exactly show in their first two games. He was sacked 13 times across the two contests and is on pace to be sacked 111 times which would be 48 more than the previous record of 63 set by John Kitna, who was also a Bengal.
Looking past the line, the Bengals didn’t really have much to celebrate in either matchup. Burrow opened his season by turning the ball over a career-worst five times. Joe Mixon is only averaging a measly three yards per carry. The defensive line has recorded just two sacks against two subpar offensive lines. The Bengals have only forced one turnover, and have been a middle-of-the-pack unit in both games.
One of the few positive takeaways from their two matchups is outsourcing opponents 28-6 in the 2nd half of both games. The Bengals have always been a second-half team, but that doesn’t matter if you aren’t winning football games.