The Cincinnati Bengals are 0-2 with a pair of close losses. And while it’s not time to panic, there are some real concerns about their offense.
The Cincinnati Bengals have a bad Super Bowl hangover — one that lingered in Week 1 and induced even more pain in Week 2 with a loss to the Dak-less Cowboys.
Yes, it’s way too early. And no, it probably isn’t time to panic. But the offensive line’s struggles remain from last season and that’s impacted the rest of the offense— including QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, and their distinguished WR core of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd.
Burrow has been sacked 13 times so far, tied for the most sacks taken by any QB through two games over the past 20 seasons. Of course, a win against the Jets could be the medicine they need to cure this hangover, but even that isn’t a guarantee after New York’s impressive comeback victory over the Browns in Week 2.
Let’s take a deeper dive and see how it’s affecting the entire offense.
The Bengals added four new offensive linemen — right tackle La’el Collins ($4.6M), right guard Alex Cappa ($6.8M) and center Ted Karras ($5M) — and allocated $29.9 million (14.1% of their total cap) to protect their star quarterback.
It hasn’t worked… but there’s a glimmer of hope they can turn it around.
“This is our first time playing together, these first two weeks,” Collins told the media. “I think we will be fine. We will get on the same page and just start doing what we do, and that’s coming out and setting the tone. Lock in on it and own it.”
According to PFF, the Bengals’ offensive line went from bottom-feeders in 2021 to top-10 ranked entering the 2022 season. They ought to turn it around and live up to expectations — or else this will just snowball into bigger problems throughout the season.
QB: Joe Burrow
Contract: 4 years, $36.2 million ($9M avg. annual value)
The big uglies up front haven’t supported their superstar whatsoever. Last season, Burrow was sacked 51 times. The Bengals overhauled their offensive line this offseason, but two games and 13 sacks later, he’s on pace to be sacked 111 times this season. That would be the most in league history by a wide margin, shattering David Carr’s previous mark of 76 sacks in 2002.
The Results: Burrow’s 13 sacks and five turnovers (4 INTs, 1 fumble) rank No.1 among QBs in the NFL. He had only 16 turnovers last season and he’s nearly 1/3 of the way there. He’s also only thrown three TDs.
Let’s not forget: The 25-year-old tore his ACL and MCL in 2020. Simply put, they need to protect him.
RB1: Joe Mixon
Contract: 4 years, $48 million ($12M AAV)
The line hasn’t been good enough to free space for Mixon to break loose. He’s yet to reach the end zone on 46 attempts and he’s averaging just 3.0 yards per carry — down from 4.1 yards per carry in 2021. Assuming things change, Mixon should be a priority in the offense after finishing with the fourth-most rushing touchdowns in 2021 (13).
Overall, the run game has been shut down completely thanks to the O-line’s incompetence. They’re dead last in rush TDs (0) despite 59 run attempts (8th-most in the NFL).
Ja’Marr Chase: 4 years, $30.2 million ($7.7M AAV)
Chase has 15 catches for 183 yards and one touchdown, but he was held in check against a tough Cowboys defense that got to Burrow six times. The numbers look solid in hindsight, but by Chase’s standards, it’s below the norm.
Tee Higgins: 4 years, $8.7 million ($2.2M AAV)
Higgins has a total of eight catches for just 98 yards and a touchdown — a 19-yard catch against the ‘Boys being his longest of the short season thus far. The highly favored WR2 hasn’t quite lived up to expectations.
Tyler Boyd: 4 years, $43 million ($10.8 AAV)
Boyd has six catches for 50 yards and one touchdown.
And there ya have it. This trio has caught all three of Burrow’s touchdowns. It’s super underwhelming for a receiving core that ranked No. 7 in reception TDs, No. 2 in 40-plus-yard completions, and No. 2 in yards per reception (12.5) a year back.
But is it their fault? Not when the QB can hardly get the ball out of his hands.
Week 3: Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5) at New York Jets
All odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.
- O/U Win Total: 8.5
- Win AFC North: +290
- Make Playoffs: +140
- Win Super Bowl: +2900 (+2100 before Week 1)