The criticism started to really stream in around the end of the first half, when Cincinnati trailed 10-0.
Some questioned the conservative playcalling.
Why Zac didn't start this game running the ball, I'll never understand.— Burner-San (@BigBurn513) September 10, 2023
While others were completely confused by Joe Burrow’s lack of accuracy and aggressiveness.
Burrow has done absolutely nothing today. The dullest 1/2 half performance in the Burrow era.— ZIM (@zimwhodey) September 10, 2023
Defense is gonna have to score
And then things just continued to get worse.
The game was essentially decided with over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, when Deshaun Watson threw a three-yard touchdown to put the Browns up 24-3.
It was at that point that Bengals fans began to vent their frustration with the team’s inability to play up to its potential against Cleveland.
The Bengals only play like this against the Browns.— Cincinnati (@CincyProblems) September 10, 2023
And needless to say, a lot of that frustration surrounded the play of Burrow, who finished a disgusting 14/31 for 82 passing yards.
I don’t remember seeing Burrow hit an easy target 5-8 yards downfield all day. Feels like it was just a back shoulder deep ball or a throw 1 yard downfield.— Blake Jewell (@BlakeJewellNFL) September 10, 2023
Of course, there was some logic to the Browns’ dominance in Week 1.
It’s Week 1. The quarterback sat for a month hurt and the offense didn’t play a single snap together.— Drew Garrison (@DrewGarrison) September 10, 2023
They’re playing the team they match up with probably the worst in the league.
There’s no way you guys expected perfection Week 1. https://t.co/kqPwOkOz2A
But the Bengals have started slow every year in the Taylor era, which brings into question the fifth-year head coach’s approach to the offseason.
Zac Taylor for the first month of every NFL season pic.twitter.com/3JjM83BzxA— Cant stop putting bionicle pieces in my mouth (@doulbedoink) September 10, 2023
Obviously, things can only go up. But that’s still a steep climb from about as ugly as a performance as you can expect from a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
On a lighter note, check out Tee Higgins’ recent appearance on Pacman Jones’ new podcast, “Pacman Jones Keeps Crazy Company”.