“The Bengals are back.” “Joe Burrow is back.” “Here comes Cincinnati.”
Joe Burrow is 100% healthy
Yes, we heard the reports before the game, but seeing Burrow take off for designed runs and even throw his body into harm’s way really sealed the deal. He’s fully back from the calf strain, and with only 10 games left and his team currently out of the playoff race, I’d expect to see the quarterback continue to put his body on the line.
best indicator that the Bengals haven't been running QB Draws this season:— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) November 1, 2023
when Joe Burrow checked into one against the 49ers, LT Orlando Brown (#75, first season with the Bengals) had no fricken clue what Burrow called. pic.twitter.com/Q5Q80bgOQI
The Bengals will have to survive without a quality tight end
Cincinnati tried to get Irv Smith more involved against San Francisco. As a result, he had a season-high in receiving yards. The problem is that his season high was only 25 yards. And he had a costly fumble near the goal line.
Irv Smith Jr. fumble. Costly Bengals mistake to close the first half.— Charlie Clifford (@char_cliff) October 29, 2023
14-10 at the break. Should likely be at least 20-10 CIN. pic.twitter.com/sHpv4GxcR9
On Tuesday, the Bengals let the trade deadline come and go without upgrading at tight end. So this is it. Today, they signed Tanner Hudson to the active roster. And so those will be your two pass-catching tight ends for the rest of the season.
Zac Taylor’s play-calling is a lot better when Burrow can move
We all suspected this, but the dominant win over the 49ers cemented the idea; the Bengals head coach is not a great play-caller when he can’t get Burrow under center, have him create plays by escaping pressure, or pick up first downs with his legs.
When Burrow was limited by the injury, Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan looked like they didn’t know what they were doing. Then, on Sunday, they seemed brilliant.
The offensive output wasn’t all Burrow. Taylor and Callahan called a great game. The best they have this year. And it’s no coincidence that came precisely when Burrow finally felt completely right.
There are different ingredients that go into Cincinnati having a functional (and sometimes explosive) offense: Burrow’s incredible accuracy and evasiveness, Chase’s occasional monster play, and Taylor and Callahan giving Burrow the structure he needs to make things happen. If one of those ingredients is missing, the whole thing falls apart.