Remember a couple of weeks ago when Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told everyone to "R-E-L-A-X"? A couple of the longest-tenured players on the Cincinnati Bengals' roster are doing the same.
With fans in full-panic mode and media members dissecting the issues with the club in their recent 0-2-1 skid, team captains Andrew Whitworth and Domata Peko told everyone to take a deep breath. "It's not the end of the world, guys," said Peko, the wild-haired defensive tackle, per Coley Harvey of ESPN.com. "We'll be alright."
Whitworth also chimed in on what the team's attitude is and must be, going forward:
"If you are playing NFL football and you are panicking, then you are not going to be in this league for very long," Whitworth said. "You have an opportunity every week in the NFL to win. That's been proven more often this year than any. One place is not safe for the whole year."
"As high as you were through the first three games and as low as you are through these last three, you have to be ready the next week to have your opportunity," Whitworth said. "If you are not ready then you are going to miss it, and you won't be around for long. This team has to find ways to get ready for this next opportunity, this next run. That's all this league is about. It's about going on runs, it's about making plays. We need to be prepared to do that."
The grizzled offensive tackle's unit had their worst performance of 2014 against the Colts on Sunday, and one of the worst in recent memory. Andy Dalton threw for just 126 yards, the team rushed for just 32 net yards and the receivers had issues getting open and hanging on to passes. Let's not forget the key to an offense being successful starts up front and the offensive linemen failed miserably in that respect this weekend as well.
Peko and the players on his side of the ball haven't been doing their part, either. They've allowed almost 1,500 yards for the first time since 1979, with only two turnovers committed by the offense during this stretch. This simply isn't the unit that we have been accustomed to seeing over the past few years. However, even Mike Zimmer-led groups had hiccup periods and ended up righting the ship.
It's likely that Whitworth and Peko are confident because of the returning players from injury, as well as the coaches' ability to create better game plans. We'll see if their confidence comes to fruition this Sunday against the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens.