After the Cincinnati Bengals came up just short in their home opener against the Chargers, let’s look at the positives and negatives from Sunday.
Joe Burrow impresses
The top overall draft picks numbers are not going to wow you. Still, he had a truly clean pocket to throw from maybe ten times throughout the entire game. 23-36 for 193 yards with a rushing touchdown and an interception is about as good as any rookie is going to do when the protection is as poor as it was.
The interception was caused by an awful choice, but those are going to happen when a young quarterback is running for his life for over three hours. The defense picked him up and kept Cincinnati in the game. More importantly, the Heisman Trophy winner rebounded and put his team in a position to tie or win the game at the end.
Poise wasn’t really a concern for Burrow in the NFL, but it is important to see that in action at the highest level. The protection for him has to get better in a hurry. Only time will tell if that is possible. Regardless, Burrow isn’t going to get rattled. That is huge.
Bengals’ defense contains Chargers
The Bengals rarely held opponents under 24 points last year. The new faces and draft picks brought in to fix that helped hold a capable Los Angeles offense to just 16 points. Holding Austin Ekeler to only one catch out of the backfield speaks particularly well of the revamped linebacking group.
The scrappy Bengals lost the game and that is ultimately what matters. So, now it is time to look at the negatives from yesterday.
Where the mistakes came from
Randy Bullock is the scapegoat for missing a short game-tying field goal at the gun. You won’t find that logic here. He hit a 50 yarder earlier in the game and it never should have come down to the kick he missed.
John Ross had a false start and a key drop on the final drive. A.J. Green’s game-winning touchdown was nullified thanks to a clear as day offensive pass interference penalty. Lastly, Zac Taylor spent the last five minutes of an incredibly tight game with no timeouts. Yes, Green is rusty and Taylor is still a young head coach. Still, that entire trio has been in the spots they are in long enough. Those mistakes cannot and should not happen.
If the established parties on this team are making mistakes like yesterday, it will be tough to bounce back on Thursday in Cleveland and beyond.