The Cincinnati Bengals are headed into their bye week at .500 after finishing the first six weeks with a 3-3 record.
At times this season, getting back to even felt like a small miracle. From a hobbled Joe Burrow, a defense that got gashed on the ground, and an offense that sometimes looked plain lost, there are many things that need to be corrected coming out of the bye.
Who needs to step up for the Bengals?
Zac Taylor: Taylor is the main responsible for the entire team, so there are certainly areas where he can improve. As the offensive play-caller, many look at Taylor when the offense sputters. Whether it be establishing the rushing offense or working to get the talented wideouts outside of Ja’Marr Chase involved, Taylor needs to get the offense humming.
Cordell Volson: Volson just hasn’t been up to snuff this season. The second-year left guard hasn’t had a great start to the season. While he has been better at run blocking, pass protection has shown to be an issue with Volson again this season. Playing alongside Orlando Brown Jr., Volson needs to become an anchor in the middle of the offensive line if the Bengals offense is going to reach its potential.
Tee Higgins: While Higgins missed a game with a rib fracture, he is still not performing up to the standard Bengals fans have come to expect from him. Higgins has only logged 14 catches for 149 yards this season. With teams certainly eyeing how to shut Chase down, Higgins has to take better advantage of his matchups and come down with the contested catches we’ve grown to expect from him over the years.
Joseph Ossai and Myles Murphy: A pass rush is at its best with a strong rotation, and as of now, the Bengals aren’t getting much from their reserve pass rushers. While Trey Hendrickson is off to a hot start and Sam Hubbard is playing well too, the defense needs to give them a breather without the pressure vanishing. Murphy still has a ways to go as a rookie, but Ossai doesn’t have that to fall back on. Ossai is close to being fully past the ankle injury that sidelined him to begin the season. Going forward, more out of those two could be a crucial boost to the Bengal defense.
Brad Robbins: Robbins has to flip the field better. His 45-yard average on punts ranks 25th out of qualifying punters. Six of his 32 punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line this season. While you’d like to see more, the offense hasn’t put him in a great position, often leaving him a long field to work with. As we saw in the AFC Championship Game last season, field position matters. Robbins has to be better to help the Bengals' defense keep opponents from putting points on the board.
If these six Bengals improve after the bye week, the Bengals will be much better off as they look for a third-straight postseason berth.