After losing to Cowboys Sunday, Cincinnati Bengals lost 0-2. Looks like the lucky woman abandoned the ship and booked the Super Bowl last year runner-up realize that it may not be as easy as once thought. Building a perennial winning team in the NFL is hard, which is why we see so many winning teams revenue every year.
Everyone knows the possibility of post-season is not great. Since the league expanded the playoff format to 14 teams, it seems harder to get out of the 0-2 hole even with two more slots and one extra game in the regular season. No team that started the season 0-2 since 2020 has made it post-season. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but 16 teams failed.
Too tight to the point of being uncomfortable
Last season, the Bengal team won five games by three points or less, with two of them winning the run to the Super Bowl. Both of their losses in 2022 are three points. These are the two matches that Cincy can and is expected to win.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for opening the season 0-2. But one of the main culprits is one of the same issues they faced in ‘21. The protection of quarterback Joe Burrow is downright embarrassing. The amazing part is Cincinnati addressed this problem during the offseason by “upgrading” the offensive line.
So far, those upgrades haven’t panned out. Burrow was sacked six times against Dallas in Week 2. The previous week, Pittsburgh got to Burrow seven times. Burrow was most fired in the league last season. He was dropped 51 times in the regular season and another 19 times in four playoffs, including the Super Bowl.
Cincinnati’s overall record was 13-8 last year when factoring in the post-season period. Those QBs who get fired so many often don’t make it to the Super Bowl. Living in the Burrow magically creating something is not a sustainable formula for success.
Look at the lights
Burrow is not the first QB to become fired more than 50 times in a season to reach the knockout stages. Russell Wilson was fired once in ’18 and could lead Seattle to a playoff spot. Randall Cunningham was fired 60 times during the ’92 regular season with the Philadelphia Eagles. That team also made it to the knockout stages with 11 wins that year. In ’85, the Jets took their toll after leaving 62 sacks on Ken O’Brien.
Getting to the knockout stages isn’t impossible when your QB has been sacked more than 50 times but staying in the game and playing in the biggest game of the year is another story. That’s what makes this Bengals team so extraordinary. If they do nothing else, they have to improve the defense of the Burrow. Because most likely the end will not be the same as this season. It’s no secret, of course, but as we’ve seen, that’s easier said than done.
No scheduled sleep
Next on the schedule are the New York Jets. Luckily for Cincy, the Jets’ defense has only been sacked three times in their first two games. But the Jets secured a surprising win over the Browns Sunday in a game that no one got them to win. Sounds like a similar Dallas situation heading into the Bengals against Cooper Rush as QB1.
In theory, Bengal should beat the Jets with ease. But on paper and in real life are two completely different realms. No one thought that Rush would play well enough for the Cowboys to beat the Bengals. Rush isn’t spectacular, but he’s steady and doesn’t make any big mistakes. Dallas’ defense did the rest.
The Jets aren’t expected to do much this year, but with Zach Wilson’s debut a few weeks away, they’ll allow Joe Flacco to get back in shape. In their win over the Browns Sunday, old man Flacco threw 44 times for 307 yards and four touchdowns. Nor did he make big mistakes. In the Jets’ Week 1 loss to Raven, Flacco stepped back to get past 59. Get ready for a shootout, Bengals fans.
If the Bengals are on track soon, it needs to happen in Week 3 against the Jets. The Miami Dolphins visited Cincy in Week 4, led by the league’s newest QB-WR power couple in Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill. Tua had six TD passes against Raven in their Week 2 game, against Lamar Jackson.
It’s time for these Bengalis to focus and clean up the mistakes on the offensive line. If Cincy can’t fix that leaked line of attack, they could revert back to the Bengal race we’ve known for decades.