The Cincinnati Bengals are off to a rough start, to say the least. An offense loaded with talent is sitting at or near the bottom of the NFL in just about every statistical category.
When a team with Super Bowl aspirations performs this badly, fans and media members start to assign blame.
Is it play calling? Is it Joe Burrow’s calf? Is there a disconnect in the locker room? Likely, it is a mixture of all three that has led to the abysmal offensive start.
With Burrow signing a record-breaking contract right before the start of the season, he and head coach Zac Taylor are the top two targets for critics. As we have seen in the NFL, when things don’t go well for teams with highly paid quarterbacks, they tend to become untouchable.
That is how former Bengal T.J. Houshmandzadeh seems to see it as well. Houshmandzadeh hosts Airing It Out on Fubo Sports and recently gave his take on the Bengals' sluggish start.
“The Patriots offense is better than the Bengals right now,” Houshmandzadeh stated. “The only offense worse is the Giants. And when you look at the Patriots and the Giants, they don’t have the players that I just named. Not on the offensive side of the ball.
“If you look at the Los Angeles Rams and you look at the Cincinnati Bengals, and you had to just pick one offense, and you can’t just go player for player, 99% of football people will take the Bengals. But the Rams’ offense is considerably better than what the Bengals have done thus far early in the season.
“Somebody has to take the blame. That’s just what it is.”
The Bengals offense ranks 31st in scoring, only beating out the Giants, and they are dead last in the league in average yards per play at four. Pro Football Focus has the Bengals offense ranked 29th in the league.
With an offense that features Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon, that seems criminal.
“If heads start to roll, it’s going to be Zac Taylor, because Joe is going nowhere. Joe will play with the Bengals until he retires. They’re not letting Joe go play for another team. Zac needs to figure out where the disconnect is and say, ‘Why aren’t we moving the ball?’
“The Bengals should be much better, and Zac Taylor, ultimately, if it continues down this path, will take the lion’s share of the blame. There’s just no other way around it. So he needs to figure this out sooner than later, because they went into the season not with aspirations of winning the division, everyone assumed that was a foregone conclusion, but it was Super Bowl or bust.
“And right now, they aren’t even going to get into the playoffs.”
With two winnable games before the bye week, all is not lost for the Bengals. If they can get to .500 before the break, hopefully, a healthier Burrow can help the offense get going when they return to play a month from now.
However, if things continue and decisions have to be made, don’t look for the organization to place any blame on Burrow.