You can say with 1,000-percent confidence that the 2022 season is not going how the Cincinnati Bengals envisioned.
The team is currently 0-2, which is bad enough. But the way the Bengals have lost and the opponents they’ve lost to -AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cooper Rush-led Dallas Cowboys– have naturally left many very frustrated and confused as to why the team, especially the offense, is playing so poorly.
The bulk of the issues reside up front on the offensive line. Yes, the same unit that prevented the Bengals from winning their first Super Bowl as an NFL franchise.
Yes, the same unit that, during the offseason, the Bengals attempted to upgrade by spending millions of dollars on multiple players.
It’s been an utter disaster, so far. The Bengals offensive line leads the NFL in sacks allowed (13) and they have allowed the second-highest adjusted sack rate (13.0%) through two games.
Granted it takes an offensive line time to gel, even if they’re in the NFL. But even then, things shouldn’t be this bad early-on.
All of Cincinnati’s offensive linemen represent an upgrade from last year’s crew, too. So, naturally, when the personnel is better but the results still stink, it’s time to start looking inward at the internal workings of the franchise -aka the coaching staff- and questioning whether or not they’re deploying a sound strategy when it comes to running the team.
That’s certainly been the case with the Bengals. Head coach Zac Taylor and co. have been under the microscope the last eight days and it’s safe to bet the evaluations just got a lot more up-close-and-personal since Sunday’s loss.
And Taylor’s latest comments are going to turn up the heat, even more.
Taylor was asked Monday how he could make Joe Burrow more comfortable during a game and the coach gave a rather confounding answer that also shed a ton of insight on the Bengals’ issues.
“I don’t necessarily think it’s about making [Joe] Burrow comfortable,” Taylor told reporters Monday. “It’s just about helping us find a rhythm as an offense.”
Boy, that explains a lot.
Sure, it’s imperative to find a rhythm on offense. But when your offense -like all NFL offenses in 2022- is predicated on the play of your quarterback, it’s a wise decision to get them as comfortable as quickly as possible.
It’s even more true for the Bengals. This team is only going to go as far as Burrow takes them and he won’t be able to even get them off the mat if he can’t get comfortable and find his own rhythm.
And the last two weeks is a prime example.
The Bengals offense runs through Burrow. Plain and simple. So why not make things as easy as possible and get him as comfortable as possible?
This guy is only the future of the franchise. Let’s not worry about what’s best for him – he’ll figure it out.
No big deal. Right?
Taylor’s logic is questionable at best and it could very well be harmful, too. Prioritizing Burrow’s needs over those of the Bengals offense should be objective No. 1 and above all else.
It’s certainly an odd thing to say and the logic is tough to figure out. But, Taylor may have unintentionally shed some light on his reasoning later on during his presser.
“I think one of the greatest strengths of Joe Burrow is to extend plays and that’s where all the magic happens,” said Taylor. “… He’s always going to work to find an open receiver and to get the ball to him as quickly as possible. That’s objective No. 1 for him.
“And objective No. 2 is [to] help us sometimes find a play when there’s not a play to be made. He does a good job of striking that balance.”
It’s clear Taylor is relying way too much on Joe Shiesty to get things done. He’s expecting the “magic” to take over and bail the Bengals out of tough situations.
Taylor’s thinking should be the exact opposite. He should be setting Burrow up in the best situation possible to work said magic to where that balance doesn’t need to be found.
It’s pretty simple. But so far, it looks complicated for Taylor and crew.
And there’s one thing that’s certain: If Taylor doesn’t figure this out, things are going to get a whole lot more complicated from here on out.
You can check out Taylor’s full presser, below:
Featured image via Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK