For the Bengals, losing quarterback Joe Burrow to a hand injury was far too much to overcome, and the Ravens went on a 27-10 run with him out of the game.
The loss stings. The injuries sting more. But with all adversity, there is something to learn. Let’s do just that.
Jake Browning isn’t that bad
That was not an easy situation to step into for a QB with zero starts to his name. The Ravens are an absolute force on defense, and this was a primetime game on the road. Even the great Joe Burrow was struggling before he was injured.
Browning, who looked a bit reckless with the ball in the preseason, operated within Zac Taylor’s system and took shots down the field confidently and appropriately.
Nice first completion for Jake Browning pic.twitter.com/ezZFZCna3l— WINCINNATI (@WINCINNATI_) November 17, 2023
The 27-year-old veteran had good chemistry with Trenton Irwin and just barely missed him on a couple of big plays that could’ve made the game a lot closer. Browning’s passes were generally on target. His biggest issue was not his passing but his inability to avoid sacks.
Trey Hendrickson is built differently
We knew he was one of the best pass rushers in the league, but it’s a rare breed of athlete that can not only quickly overcome injury (hyperextended knee) but also continue to play at a dominant level (think Terrell Owens in Super Bowl XXXIX).
Hendrickson did just that against the Ravens, with a sack, a QB hit, and two tackles for loss.
Trey Hendrickson is an absolute menace. pic.twitter.com/l0Osf2XoZw— Cincinnati (@CincyProblems) November 17, 2023
Cordell Volson will need to be replaced
Tight end? Running back? A Tee Higgins replacement?
None of those are as urgent needs on offense as left guard, considering just how critical it is to keep Burrow upright.
Ravens rookie Tavius Robinson using those heavy hands to win inside for the sack.— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) November 17, 2023
The fourth-round pick out of Ole Miss was playing Canadian college football just a few years ago at Guelph, now he’s making an impact for an NFL contender. pic.twitter.com/NOgVUbsHPJ
If the Bengals are serious about contending, they’ll need to upgrade the position.
And now a false start by Cordell Volson on 1st & goal. Sack surrendered earlier and now presnap penalty by Volson.— Andre Perrotta (@andreperrotta13) November 17, 2023
Games are never going to be easy against Baltimore’s defense
For those of us (like me) hoping to see offensive fireworks against the Ravens like we did in 2021, I got bad news: Mike MacDonald is not Wink Martindale, and it’s not close at all. The new defensive coordinator is way too prepared for Taylor’s plays for the Bengals to be able to move the ball effortlessly.
Ravens defense toying with everything on that last 3rd down: leverages, shell, front pic.twitter.com/JJ72QAtufI— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) November 17, 2023
Orlando Brown Jr. isn’t elite
We can stop trying to talk ourselves into it now. He’s great. Big and athletic. But he doesn’t provide airtight pass protection like Trent Williams, and he probably never will.
Odafe Oweh generated a career-high 7 pressures and 35.0% pressure rate, 5 of which came in matchups against Orlando Brown.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 17, 2023
Oweh has generated a 15%+ pressure rate in five straight games since returning from injury, trailing only Bryce Huff (7 games).#CINvsBAL | #RavensFlock pic.twitter.com/jEP85jR9um
Kyle Van Noy hit Orlando Brown Jr. with a spin move before getting the sack— Ensign Gridiron (@EnsignGridiron) November 17, 2023
So that’s what we learned. Our concerns, meanwhile, are mostly about Burrow’s wrist and the backup QB situation. If the franchise can’t go for a few weeks, it’ll be very hard, but not impossible, to make the playoffs.
We’ll next see the Bengals play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, November 26.