The Cincinnati Bengals are off to a tough 0-2 start this season in part because they haven’t been able to execute their offensive game plan.

Opposing teams have been playing soft coverages against the Bengals which has limited big plays.

Additionally, Cincinnati’s poor offensive line play has prevented the team from successfully running the ball, adding to the offensive struggles.

One solution would seemingly be to give quarterback Joe Burrow more protection.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, however, believes the Bengals should do the opposite.

Barnwell thinks Cincinnati should go with more empty sets.

Here’s his reasoning:

I also wonder if the Bengals might want to go back to when Burrow was truly devastating in college and work more out of empty sets. He is 14-of-17 for 132 yards and a QBR of 86.6 out of empty this season, with his QBR dropping to 34.9 out of all other looks. It might seem illogical to take a quarterback who doesn’t feel protected and remove extra blockers from the formation, but the empty sets might allow Burrow to have a clearer sense of his protection and create quicker solutions in the passing game.

Bengals
Sep 11, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws under presser during the fourth quarter of a Week 1 NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

This feels like the opposite of what the Bengals should be doing, but the numbers suggest it’s the right move.

Burrow has been more efficient this season out of those empty sets. If that’s the case, then it seems like a no-brainer to go with more of those looks — even if it seems counterintuitive.

It’ll be interesting to see how the offense adjusts this week against the New York Jets, another team with a good pass rush. Cincinnati lost to the Jets last season, so this is far from an “easy win” for the Bengals. They’ll have to make some changes from what we saw the first two weeks of the season to get in the win column in week three.

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