NFL Beast

The Best Damn NFL News Site Ever!

Tuesday Trenches: Oh boy, here we go again!

5 min read

#NFLBeast #NFL #NFLTwitter #NFLUpdate #NFLNews #NFLBlogs

#Cincinnati #Bengals #CincinnatiBengals #AFC

By: Jason Garrison

Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

What year is it?

For the second season in a row, the Cincinnati Bengals have gotten out to a sluggish 0-2 start, and for the second year in a row, they’ve also gone 0-2 to start their division play. It doesn’t quite feel like last season, though, does it?

I think we knew heading into the 2022 season that quarterback Joe Burrow wasn’t going to be quite himself yet, and it showed as the Bengals lost to the Steelers and Cowboys.

However, they were in those games until the very last second. They almost won both of them. The Bengals weren’t really that close to winning either of their games this year. They were utterly destroyed by the Cleveland Browns, and the score was much closer on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens than the game ever really was.

And we knew, again, to a certain extent, that Burrow wouldn’t quite seem his best right away. He was coming off another preseason in which he missed all of camp, this time due to a calf strain. A calf strain he re-aggravated on Sunday against the Ravens.

So I think the difference is this: In 2022, we knew Burrow would start slow and progressively get healthier and better. In 2023, we knew Burrow would start slow (not that damn slow, though), but now we don’t know how healthy he is or if he’ll even need to miss the next “several” games. What was supposed to be such a promising and fun season has quickly gotten crappy.

All hope isn’t lost, though.

First, here are a few things that caught my eye against the Ravens:

  • The offensive line overall did a good job at pass protection. Jonah Williams allowed a couple of pressures and a sack, but other than that, the line held up for Burrow. He was only pressured six times. As Burrow continues to get healthy, or if another quarterback has to step in for a while, this will need to continue.
  • The coaches seem to be unwilling to really unleash Joe Mixon for some reason. This is the second consecutive game in which Mixon only had 13 carries, and he averaged over four yards per carry in both games. If Burrow is struggling to move the ball through the air, why wouldn’t the Bengals offense rely on the run game? It could be possible that they fear losing Mixon to injury, which would be bad considering they have almost no depth at the position.
  • The defensive line struggled to put a lot of pressure on Lamar Jackson. He wasn’t sacked at all and was only hit once. It often seemed the Bengals rushed only three or four players, maybe in hopes of keeping Jackson in the pocket.
  • I’m now not 100 percent sure that Hayden Hurst and C.J. Uzomah were just mediocre tight ends that Burrow got paid because he’s so good. Irv Smith Jr. was targeted four times on Sunday and was only able to haul in one reception. His overall receiving grade from PFF on the season so far is 40.9. It’s early, and a lot could change, but the tight end position, as of now, is an area of concern on this roster.

Looking ahead….

The Bengals remain in Cincinnati in Week 3, hosting the LA Rams on Monday Night Football. Here are a few things we could see from the Rams on Monday.

  • Puka Nacua is Cooper Kupp. Kupp was lost for the first few games of the season, on IR with a hamstring injury, and Nacua has swooped right in. In two games, he has caught 25 passes for 266 yards. The Bengals secondary will be busy.
  • The idea that Matt Stafford’s career was basically over due to the injury-plagued nine games he played last season were overblown. Stafford has thrown for over 300 yards in both games so far this season. The Rams have been good on offense so far in 2023.
  • Aaron Donald. Enough said.
  • It’s difficult to imagine the Bengals offense matching up against the Rams because it’s unclear as to whether or not Burrow will play. The Bengals offense without Burrow doesn’t resemble the Bengals at all. It’s a different team.

Some other random thoughts on the Bengals’ Week 2 loss to the Ravens….

  • I am a youth football coach for my son’s team, and we had a game scheduled on Sunday at 3:40. I understand scheduling hundreds of youth football games on a limited number of fields is almost impossible by itself without thinking Sundays are off the table. Still, it was very hard to watch the first half, then find out they lost while my son’s team was losing, and then go back and watch the second half. If I’m going to be depressed about a loss, I want it to be in real-time.
  • It’s clear that Burrow was getting back to normal slowly as the game progressed. He looked more like himself in the second half. If it weren’t for the calf injury being re-aggravated, I’d feel much better right now.
  • The defense struggled against the Ravens on Sunday. Jackson threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals, who were not able to register a single sack. They clearly wanted to keep Jackson in the pocket, which they were able to do. However, keeping him in the pocket doesn’t help if he’s allowed to sit there and throw.
  • The Bengals have a tight end problem. It’s early, and Burrow hasn’t looked like himself, yes, but Smith hasn’t looked like Hurst or Uzomah. What’s worse is Drew Sample is the next tight end on the depth chart. It’s possible not addressing the position more this offseason is coming back to bite them.
  • There were way more missed tackles on Sunday than I’m used to seeing from a Lou Anarumo defense.
  • The Bengals were down by 10 with half a quarter left in the game when they got the ball back on their own 20-yard line. They drove down the field and scored, but it took them four minutes. I mean, yes, they scored, but they left themselves a very slim chance they’d get the ball back. I would have liked to have seen a two-minute drill sense of urgency from them in that situation.

So how are you feeling, Bengals fans? Have you lost hope? Are you still thinking they’re contenders? Let us know in the comments.

Originally posted on Cincy Jungle – All Posts

%d bloggers like this: