Bengals: If no one else will, Zac Taylor has to protect Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow has taken a beating in his first two NFL starts, something Zac Taylor has to prevent with his playcalling moving forward.
Joe Burrow has only been sacked a total of five times in his first two games as a pro. To anyone who has watched those games, that number likely feels shockingly low. But 20 quarterback pressures and 8 hits last week against Cleveland alone tell a more accurate story.
To his credit, Burrow has posted a very respectable 81.5 quarterback rating through two games while being under pressure almost all the time.
That doesn’t change the fact that the Bengals’ offensive line is a mess. The right side is worse than the left, but everyone upfront has contributed to the problem. Fred Johnson was inserted as the starting right guard against the Browns. As evidenced by the numbers at end of the first paragraph, that didn’t help.
Cincinnati will likely throw more starting offensive line arrangements up against the wall and hope something sticks. Still, until proven otherwise, there is no reason to think the answers to this problem are on the current roster.
As good as Burrow is, he is human. If he keeps getting hit the way he has been, it isn’t a matter of if he will get seriously hurt, but rather when. This franchise cannot have that happen to one of the few rays of hope it has.
The run game will provide Joe Burrow some protection
Currently, the only person that can protect Burrow is head coach Zac Taylor. The former Rams assistant made it clear from day one of his tenure that he is the play-caller. There is a belief in some NFL circles that running the ball a lot doesn’t win games in the modern era. There may be some truth to that.
However, having a rookie throw 61 times behind an offensive line that is constantly getting run over isn’t a winning formula either. It could also be far more damaging to the franchise than handing off to Joe Mixon 10-12 more times per game. This adjustment has to be made starting Sunday against the Eagles and probably go beyond that game.
Taylor also needs to consider pulling Burrow if and when his team gets in games that are out of hand. These changes will displease fans and even some inside the Bengals building. Winning games is the primary goal, but protecting Burrow from serious injury is of almost equal importance at this point. Cincinnati doesn’t have the linemen to do it. So, Taylor and his staff have to until that changes.