The Bengals have a new quarterback who they are hoping will lead them to many years of prosperity, but in order to do that, he needs to get his first win.
So what do the Bengals need to do to get this monkey off his back?
Complete Deep Balls
Joe Burrow’s 23-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Uzomah last week was the longest pass of his career. He is currently 1 for 12 on pass attempts of over 20 yards for the season.
Perhaps the most obvious reason the Bengals need to connect on these passes is the need for big plays. Being able to throw a 50-yard bomb and score from anywhere on the field puts immense pressure on the defense. It would also be a huge help in games like last Thursday night’s, where the Bengals were coming from behind and time was not on their side.
Another reason is the need to come back from adversity during the drive. When the Bengals have given up a sack or committed an offensive penalty, which put them in a position where they had more than 10 yards to go for the first down, the offense has rarely been able to overcome.
In addition to the obvious desire to keep Burrow safe, this also closely ties in with the 1st key. If Burrow faces less pressure and can hold the ball for longer, he will be in a better position to complete deep passes.
Right tackle Bobby Hart struggled with Joey Bosa in Week 1. He played better against Myles Garrett and company in Week 2, but the Browns managed to give the interior offensive linemen fits.
This week they face an Eagles team with their own collection of talented pass rushers inside and out. The entire offensive line needs to step up and play their best game for the Bengals to pull off the win.
The Bengals cannot afford to squelch opportunities, in fact they need to create more opportunities for Burrow and the offense.
In Week 1, a rare Joe Mixon fumble set up the decisive score for the Chargers, and Burrow threw an interception (on a pass that never should have been thrown) when the Bengals were in scoring position late in the game.
They cannot afford to make this type of mistake.
In their own Week 1 matchup, the Eagles allowed the Washington Football Team to come back by turning the ball over deep in their own territory.
The Bengals defense also needs to create opportunities for their offense to put points on the board. The more times you put the ball in Burrow’s hands the better off you’ll be.
Win Red Zone
The Browns were four of five in the red zone last Thursday night. The one stop they had could have been a huge momentum swing, but the Bengals offense turned the ball over shortly after stopping the Browns on 4th down.
The Bengals were two of four in the red zone. They need to capitalize on these red zone trips.
In Week 1, the Bengals defense managed to keep them in the game by playing well in the red zone and holding the Chargers to one touchdown in three red zone visits.
Their defense needs to hold the Eagles to field goals this weekend, while the offense needs to find a way to score touchdowns and not have Red Zone trips thwarted by negative plays.
Stop the Run
The Chargers and Browns wanted to run the football and were able to do so effectively against the Bengals.
The Eagles do not share the same offensive philosophy, but given the struggles of Carson Wentz this season and the success that other teams have had running the ball against the Bengals, they may look to break character in this game.
If the Eagles are able to get ahead and run the ball like the Browns did a week ago, that will make life extremely difficult for the Bengals. If they can run the ball the Eagles will both take time off the clock and take pass rush opportunities away from the Bengals defense.
The Bengals defensive line needs to be more effective at disengaging from blocks, their linebackers need to quickly fill the appropriate gap on the frontside while patiently playing the cutback, and the entire defense needs to tackle better than they have so far this season.
The Bengals can get their first win this weekend if they can manage to accomplish these five things. If they can get that first win, it will be a great building block for the rest of the season.