It's not yet time to panic about Bengals, but Sunday's game against Jets is a must-win | Opinion
Don’t hit the panic button just yet on the Cincinnati Bengals.
They get one more game to turn it around. If there’s such a thing as a must-win in September, then the Bengals’ upcoming road game against the New York Jets is it.
Lose that one, and Bengals fans have every right to go into freak-out mode.
Some are already there after the defending AFC champion Bengals fell to 0-2 with Sunday's 20-17 loss at Dallas. It was another offensive stinker. It was another sackfest for the other guys
Who am I to tell you to relax and don’t worry? This franchise has done you wrong way too many times in the past 30 years.
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But this team deserves a little bit of grace. We all saw in January what the Bengals can do. All the key players are still here. Joe Burrow is too good to keep struggling the way he has in the first two games. Despite the offensive woes, the Bengals have still given themselves a chance to win each of the first two games.
Remember, the Bengals were sluggish out of the gate last season. The first two games of 2021 were both decided by three points – just like this season. The difference is the Bengals were able to salvage one of the first two games last year, defeating Minnesota in overtime in the opener.
The Bengals then went to Chicago in Week 2 and laid a big, fat egg against a terrible Bears team. Burrow threw three interceptions against the Bears. The offense then put it together. The Bengals won two straight games, and four of their next five. They were off and running in that magical season
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys have better defenses than the first two opponents of 2021. Comparing the first few weeks of 2021 and 2022 is relevant because slow offensive starts have been a trend during Zac Taylor’s coaching tenure with the Bengals. The Bengals are not doing a good enough job preparing for the season in training camp and preseason games.
They should be ready now. There will be no excuses for losing to QB Joe Flacco and the Jets (1-1), who are coming off a thrilling 31-30 victory in Cleveland.
The Browns, Pittsburgh and Baltimore all lost on Sunday. The AFC North getting swept is another reason why it’s not time to panic about the Bengals. All their division rivals have a loss.
But you’re still worried about that supposedly rebuilt offensive line. And rightfully so.
The Bengals’ offensive front has been a sieve so far this season. Cincinnati gave up six more sacks against the Cowboys. That’s 13 through two games, putting the Bengals on pace to give up more than 110 in the regular season. They gave up 70 between the regular season and playoffs last year − and that was way too many
Last week, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan told reporters that not all the sacks were on the offensive line. It was an effort to take the heat off the starting offensive line, which didn’t get to take any snaps together in the preseason. He said the line was responsible for three or four of the Pittsburgh sacks. That’s still way too many.
Bengals coaches continued to defend the line after Sunday's performance.
“It’s not frustrating,” Taylor said when asked about the sacks. “We’ve given ourselves an opportunity to win these games against good teams. Once things settle down, I know that we’re going to be a really good football team. We all believe that.”
Things better settle down quickly. The line gets one more game to show marked improvement before it’s time to start seriously questioning whether the front office completely botched the rebuild. You can’t say you’re building everything around Burrow and put a porous and shoddy line in front of him.
The pressure is on everyone in the Bengals organization heading into New York