Change starts at the top. We all know that.
At the top is head coach Zac Taylor. And that is exactly who needs to change if the Cincinnati Bengals hope to overcome another 0-2 start.
Taylor offered up a list of excuses after Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but not much else.
“We had a holding call right out of the gate,” he said. “We had a first down, a holding call — now it’s second-and-14. Then we had a great play on the third down, and then we’re out of bounds.”
Okay, mistakes are a part of the equation. But the Ravens actually had one more penalty than then Bengals, and for more yards. So it’s not really the mistakes, because everyone has those. It’s what you do to overcome them.
“If you really assess what was going on, I thought we were in good shape,” Taylor said. “They got us on a second-and-10. They threw a bubble, and it got us in third-and-10 and we couldn’t convert. Outside of two plays on the first two drives, the next five drives we drove down the field for a field goal, touchdown, interception, and then touchdown. It felt like we were finding our rhythm there offensively.”
Sure, the Bengals finally found a rhythm. The problem is that they needed to find that rhythm earlier. Forget the excuses and just get out there and play the game they way they know how to play it.
“We did some good things,” said two-time Super Bowl champion Ted Karras, the Cincinnati center who is the anchor of an offensive line that has long been seen as a weakness. “We got it going in the second half.”
And that proved to be too little, too late.
“We don’t need to dip our toe in the water any more,” Karras continued. “We need to dive right in and get some points right away.”
For the second week in a row, the first half was a disaster. Against the Ravens, the Bengals generated all of three points over the first two quarters. Quarterback Joe Burrow completed 8 of 11 passes for 35 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.
The only reason Cincinnati was down only 13-10 at the half was defense, and an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the second quarter by rookie Charlie Jones.
So what can the Bengals’ do to change that narrative, especially now that they may be without their leader Monday night when they take on the Los Angeles Rams? Burrow is questionable after tweaking his calf against in the loss to the Ravens. Karras had an answer for that question.
“A big part of our strategy is to score first. Our record is pretty good when we score first. So not dipping our toe in the water, going down, 75-yard drives to start games and taking the lead right away.”
Are you listening, coach?