Joe Burrow, at times, played as badly as we’ve seen him play. The offensive line didn’t look good. It couldn’t have gone much worse for Cincinnati and yet the Bengals still had a chance to win the game.
Despite the near victory, there was plenty of frustration from Cincy fans on social media.
And look, I get it — that’s not how you want to start the season after reaching the Super Bowl seven months earlier. Like it or not, expectations are higher for the Bengals moving forward because of that Super Bowl run.
But while the first game of the season wasn’t pretty, and plenty of issues popped up, there are still several reasons why Cincinnati fans shouldn’t be freaking out right now.
In fact, there are three specific reasons why I think Bengals fans should feel confident that Cincy will be fine this season.
1. The offensive line was bad, but it wasn’t the entire reason for the seven sacks on Joe Burrow
The big storyline for the Bengals this offseason was the offensive line improvements that Cincy made. They signed three quality free agents — Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, and La’el Collins.
But against the Steelers, the Bengals’ offensive line appeared to struggle. That’s for a couple of reasons. For starters, Pittsburgh has a really good defensive line. It might even be the best defensive line the Bengals will face this season. There’s also the fact that this was Cincy’s revamped offensive line’s first game together. It’ll take some time to build some chemistry. And I’m confident they’ll be much better by the end of the season.
The seven sacks on Burrow, however, weren’t all on the offensive line.
Pro Football Focus charged four of the seven sacks to the Bengals’ offensive line. That means three of the sacks were because Burrow held the ball too long.
Now, that’s nothing to be mad at Burrow about. He makes some great plays because he holds onto the ball and makes a spectacular play happen when there is seemingly no play to be made. An extra sack here and there is the trade-off for those plays.
So while the offensive line could’ve been better, it wasn’t necessarily as bad as the box score indicates.
2. The Bengals had some tough losses last season, too
The loss to the Steelers hurt — especially since it’s a division opponent. But this Pittsburgh team is going to be better than a lot of folks expect (mostly because of their defense).
Cincinnati had much worse losses last season and they still won the AFC North and went to the Super Bowl.
Last season, the Bengals lost to the lowly Chicago Bears and the New York Jets. They also lost to the Cleveland Browns twice.
None of those losses kept the Bengals from reaching the biggest game in professional sports. The loss to the Steelers shouldn’t be viewed any differently.
By the way, Cincinnati gets the Dallas Cowboys next week. The Cowboys just lost quarterback Dak Prescott for the next two months and their offensive line is worse than the Bengals’ offensive line. That should be a win for Cincy.
3. Joe Burrow was still Joe Sheisty when it counted
Burrow made some mistakes against the Steelers. He tried to force some throws that simply weren’t there.
He also was vintage Burrow at times.
The former LSU standout made several throws that should’ve won the game for the Bengals.
As bad as Burrow was (and he was), he threw 3 game "winners"— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) September 12, 2022
1) Ball to Chase ruled out at the 1.
2) Back of EZ to Mike Thomas (dropped)
3) Game-tying TD to Chase
None of them actually won the game…
The throw to Chase that was down at the one should’ve been a touchdown but Zac Taylor didn’t challenge it. And then the actual game-trying touchdown to Chase should’ve won the game but the extra point was missed.
There was also this catch by Chase that was incredible even though he didn’t get both feet down.
A take: If you only need one hand to make the catch you should only need one foot in bounds for it to count pic.twitter.com/dIgSUsRzAZ— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) September 11, 2022
We saw a lot of bad from the Bengals on Sunday. But they still had a chance to win. And Burrow still did some special things.
This team is going to be fine.
Like Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers once said, everyone just needs to R-E-L-A-X.
Featured image via Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports