The Cincinnati Bengals‘ 2022 season has gotten off to a bad start.

Cincinnati is 0-2 after dropping two games where they were heavily favored.

The biggest reason for the Bengals’ struggles early this season has been Joe Burrow getting hit too often.

Some of those hits are on the offensive line and some are on Burrow holding the ball too long.

As a result, teams are playing soft coverages against the Bengals — essentially taking away the big play.

We saw a perfect example of this in Cincinnati’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday.

On that play, the Bengals tried to use play action to set up a deep shot down the field to Ja’Marr Chase.

The Cowboys’ linebackers didn’t bite on the play action — but that’s not why this play failed.

Cincinnati used a six-man protection and Dallas only rushed four as safety Israel Mukuamu dropped into coverage.

The reason the play blew up was because Bengals tight end Jonah Williams blocked…well, no one.

Now, to be fair, Williams is trying to make sure a defender doesn’t come through the B gap. But a Dallas defensive end was able to quickly get past Cincy’s tight end before Burrow has a chance to find Chase downfield. Some help from Williams could’ve given Burrow an extra second or two to get the ball to Chase.

As long as teams can consistently get pressure bringing just four defenders, we’re going to continue to see teams limit what Cincinnati can do downfield.

That’s something that Burrow acknowledged after the loss to Dallas.

“Teams are going to keep playing us in a soft zone until we prove that we can beat them that way,” said Burrow. “So, we’re going to have to win a different way this year and we need to figure that out quickly so that we can get on the win column.”

The answer — as un-sexy as it is — is running the ball. If the Bengals can start taking advantage of light boxes by running the ball, we’ll see defenses have to change the way they’re defending Cincinnati’s offense.

It’ll certainly be interesting to see what kind of adjustments the Bengals make this week.

Featured image via Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK