This Cincinnati Bengals team has not been off to the greatest start in the first two games of the season.
It took until the second game to score their first offensive touchdowns of the year. Drive after drive, it seems like the Bengals can’t make it passed the 50-yard line.
The third quarter last week against the Ravens is the best the offense has performed so far this season. This Bengals squad had their first big spark of the year after Higgins scored his second touchdown of the game and of the year after not even having a catch the week prior.
This team just seems a bit off at the moment. They aren’t the same as normal. What’s missing? Is it simply a matter of Joe Burrow’s health?
Burrow: "Nobody is 100% healthy out there. Everybody is dealing with something."— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) September 21, 2023
"I feel good about where I'm at and the progress I've made."
Burrow admitted this week that nobody, including himself, is 100% healthy.
One of the many topics to address is Burrow’s health. Will he play Monday night against the Rams, or will he take a few more days to try and heal? Even if he wants to play, should he play?
You hear a lot of people saying no matter what, he shouldn’t play for long-term reasons. They say he shouldn’t take a chance to injure himself further to risk any long-term effects.
I would say the only person who truly knows that answer is #9. We already know team doctors and trainers and everybody else in that locker room are paying close attention to him, but he’s the only one who knows his own body and how it’ll perform. If he knows this lingering injury will affect his play negatively, he won’t take that chance, but if he knows it won’t affect his play, you can make the bet he’ll be playing MNF. It’s a vexing decision for him, but only he knows the answer.
Create a run game
The NFL is definitely more of a passing league, more than it has ever been, and that’ll never change. But most teams who are consistently winning can establish command on the ground, as well as the air. If you successfully complement the ground game and air game, you will win the game, or it’ll come down to the last drive, depending on whom the opponent is.
If your back is only getting 3-4 yards each run, that won’t cut it. You need the explosive run play, 10+ yards. It’s a snowball effect that creates momentum.
Take more chances
In order to create that momentum, you have to take chances downfield and trust the weapons you have. The Bengals have, arguably, the best-receiving trio in the league. They have yet to successfully pass the ball downfield.
On one side, you have one of the most athletic receivers in Chase. On the other side, you have one of the best one-on-one receivers in Higgins. Then in the slot, you have one of the most underrated receivers in Boyd. Use them. In order to win, you need to take advantage of those weapons.
In order to win the game, you need momentum the whole game. How do you get that momentum? By scoring quick and often. How do you start that? By scoring first. If you don’t score first, that automatically gives the other team momentum because their defense stopped the offense.
Quit playing zone defense
Coming into this season, this Bengals defense was supposed to be one of the best in the league. They haven’t shown it so far. They have given up at least 20 pts in each of the first two games.
Granted, they are getting tired quickly since they’ve been on the field so much. But we have some of the best DBs in the league who have helped get them to the AFC Championship each of the last two years. The Browns and the Ravens have just picked away at our defense in the middle of the field. If they switched to a man-to-man defense, mark by word, they hold their opponents to at least one less touchdown.
Monday night will be a very big deciding factor in how the rest of the season will end up.
If they can fix these issues, they go on another long win streak and find themselves back atop the AFC.
Let us know what you think the Bengals' biggest issue(s) are and how they can fix them.