3 reasons it’s too early to give up on Joe Burrow and the Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals came within just over two minutes of winning Super Bowl LVI last season. Ultimately, they blew a late lead and lost to the Los Angeles Rams. Entering the 2022-2023 NFL season, the Bengals were looking to avoid the dreaded Super Bowl hangover. It’s a curse of teams that fall flat on their face the season after losing the Super Bowl.
Most people in the media and fans alike did not believe the Bengals would succumb to the curse. Yet, after two weeks the Bengals find themselves 0-2 and in last place of the AFC North division.
They opened their season with a deflating loss to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Cincinnati seemingly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. They scored what should have been the game-winning touchdown with no time left. But the extra point was blocked, sending the game to overtime where the Steelers would prevail.
In Week 2, the Bengals looked awful offensively in a 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Through those two games, Bengals QB Joe Burrow has been sacked 13 times. The biggest problem last season was Cincinnati’s inability to protect their quarterback. That prompted the team to sign three very good offensive lineman. Thus far, it hasn’t made any difference.
All signs point to the Super Bowl hangover happening yet again. But I am here to tell you the three reasons why it’s too early to give up on the 2022 Cincinnati Bengals.
3 Reasons you should not give up on Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals
3. Bengals defense quietly playing well
The one part of the Bengals’ first two games that no one is talking about is how well the defense has played.
In their season-opening loss, they held Mitchell Trubisky to just 194 yards passing. Najee Harris ran for 23 yards on 10 carries. Chase Claypool of all people led the Steelers with 36 yards rushing. But because Burrow turned the ball over five times, the Bengals lost the game.
The Bengals had PFF’s highest graded overall defense in Week 1 – 81.4 😤
⚫️ 82.3 run defense grade – 2nd
🟠 79.7 coverage grade – 1st pic.twitter.com/MkqncCiMyM
— PFF CIN Bengals (@PFF_Bengals) September 14, 2022
In Week 2, the Bengals defense once again played very well. Ezekiel Elliott could not run the ball against the Cincy front seven. CeeDee Lamb was held in check to just 75 yards receiving. But once again, the Bengals offense was the reason for the loss. Burrow was sacked six times and finished with a QBR of 48.4. But the defense ranks inside the top 10 of most major statistical categories. Assuming Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and the offense eventually clicks, things could be looking up.
2. Rest of AFC North division
Despite falling to 0-2 early on, the Bengals are still just a game out of first place in the AFC North.
The Steelers, with whom they lost in Week 1, lost at home to the New England Patriots. At this point, no one is a believer that the Steelers are legit contenders. Yes, they hang their hat on no losing records under Mike Tomlin, but that’s a low bar.
The Cleveland Browns inexplicably blew a 13-point lead with under two minutes left to the New York Jets. It was the first time in over 2,200 games that a team blew that big of lead that late. Of course, it was the Browns. I only say that because the last time it happened, it happened agains the Browns 20 years ago.
The remaining team in the division is the Baltimore Ravens. They also had a historic collapse Sunday. The Ravens blew a 21-point fourth quarter to the Miami Dolphins. Tua Tagovailoa threw six touchdown passes, four of which came in the fourth quarter, against the Ravens depleted secondary. Baltimore has been devastated by injury once again.
Tua's 6 Touchdowns against the Ravens today tie Dan Marino and Bob Griese for most Touchdown passes in a game in Dolphins history.
Tua also becomes the second youngest player since 1950 to throw for at least 450 pass yards and 6 TDs, behind only Patrick Mahomes. pic.twitter.com/xeQxfCDMs9
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 18, 2022
So, as bad as it seems for the Bengals right now, they still have every reason to believe they can win the AFC North.
1. The Bengals are healthy
Unlike the other teams in their division, the Bengals are actually quite healthy. Wide receiver Tee Higgins received a concussion Week 1 but was able to suit up against the Cowboys and played very well. He finished with six catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Ja’Marr Chase, as well all know, is one of the best receivers in the world. We even saw Tyler Boyd come back to life last week.
The biggest problem thus far has been the Bengals inability to keep Burrow upright. But I have to believe that is going to fix itself over time. He is on pace to be sacked 110 times this season. We know that’s not a realistic number. Considering the wealth of talent on that side of the ball, if he can just get another half second to find the open receiver, the offense should eventually get back on track.
But beyond that, he’s holding the ball too long looking for the big play. Zac Taylor needs to get in his ear and tell him, take the check down.
— Pranav Sriraman (@PranavSriraman) September 18, 2022
They face a get right game this Sunday against the New York Jets. Despite beating the Browns in the aforementioned insanity, the Jets defense has mostly been a train wreck this season. It’s the perfect opportunity for Cincinnati to get back on track before the meat of the schedule arrives.