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3 things we learned from the Bengals’ latest loss to the Steelers

The Bengals are years away from competing in the AFC North.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like we learn something new every time after seeing the same result in a Bengals-Steelers game. This time, in the aftermath of their 11th-straight loss to the Steelers, things appear a lot more clearly for the state of the Bengals’ franchise. Here’s what we learned from Sunday’s game.

The coaching wasn’t ready for this game

The Bengals had two weeks to prepare for this game, and this was the result.

So far, in both of Zac Taylor’s post-bye week games, the Bengals have been outscored 85-20. Not only did the Bengals lose to the Steelers 36-10 after this years’ bye week, they got blown out 49-10 by the Ravens last year.

This is a Steelers team, by the way, that had to pull out a fourth quarter come back to defeat the Cowboys a week ago. A 2-7 Cowboys team with former AAF quarterback Garrett Gilbert under center.

On defense, the mounting injuries at cornerback created some obvious issues. Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball 46 times, most of the time targeting replacement cornerbacks Tony Brown and Jalen Davis. He kept going there because it worked all too well.

But Lou Anarumo couldn’t figure out anything to do other than just hope Big Ben would overthrow his receivers. That resulted in four passing touchdowns. Granted, the cornerback position is rife with injury, but Anarumo should have at least tried something. He could have tried playing Shawn Williams and Brandon Wilson more, or dropping coverage linebackers like Logan Wilson more.

Trae Waynes, Darius Phillips, and LeShaun Sims don’t play on offense, though.

Joe Burrow played his least efficient game of his career with only a 52.5 completion percentage and 5.3 yards per attempt. Apart from Tee Higgins, none of the receivers played particularly well. Tyler Boyd was held to 6.8 yards per reception, and A.J. Green had zero catches on five targets.

The only thing that worked well was the running game, which the Bengals’ couldn’t lean on because they were behind the whole game.

Then there was special teams. Darrin Simmons is one of the best special teams coaches in the league, but his unit wasn’t ready for this game. The Bengals made big mistakes on the first punt return, the first kick return, and the first punt of the game.

Despite preparing for this game for two weeks, not a single unit on this team was ready to play.

Despite valiant effort, offensive line needs changing

This offensive line is cobbled together out of necessity, but should get some serious shakeups once everyone returns.

Burrow made it 25 minutes into the game before getting sacked, but he ended the game with four. The Steelers called stunt after stunt that confused the Bengals’ offensive line.

As soon as the Bengals get another healthy tackle (I’d even take Bobby Hart at this point), they need to move Quinton Spain to right guard.

The Bengals also need Jonah Williams back so he can pick up on the blindside. Hakeem Adeniji and Fred Johnson are both better at right tackle. Either of them, assuming their both available, would be better than Hart or Spain at right tackle.

Every team the Bengals face are going to show them stunts on the line until they can figure out a way to stop it. We’ll find out how good or how bad the coaching staff is based on how they improve over the next seven games.

The Bengals are still years away from competing in the AFC North

After 10 games, Taylor is now 1-9 against the AFC North. Taylor has lost to each opponent three times, with his only win coming against the Browns.

The Bengals have played every team in the division at least once now, and they’ll be lucky to get one division this year.

The Steelers and the Ravens in particular seem especially daunting. Their defenses stifled Burrow, and have kept the Bengals to their two lowest scoring games this season.

If this is how the Bengals are going to play against the top team in the division, then they have a lot of changes to make.