Cincinnati Bengals: The biggest second half questions facing the franchise
With the Bengals coming off a bye week and rounding the mid-way point, now is a good time to evaluate the biggest questions surrounding the franchise.
If nothing else, the 2-5-1 Cincinnati Bengals are infinitely more entertaining than last year’s squad that ended up 2-14. The back half of the season starts with the undefeated Pittsburg Steelers on Sunday. As Zac Taylor’s squad enters the next phase of the 2020 campaign, there are a couple of things to look for over the final eight games.
Is Zac Taylor completely safe?
No one needed Cincinnati’s upset win over the Titans more than second-year head coach Zac Taylor. He can preach “culture” all he wants, but head coaching is very black and white. Wins and losses are the measuring stick. 4-19-1 is still a pretty ghastly record. However, the win heading into the bye week was Taylor’s first against a quality opponent. It gives his team something tangible to build on.
The Brown family gave Marvin Lewis 16 years, but Taylor may or may not be given a lot of time to turn the franchise around. Looking at the schedule, if the Bengals can beat the Giants, Washington, Dallas, and Houston, that would triple last year’s win total. It would be easier to convince fans and ownership that things are headed in the right direction.
Anything less than six wins would make a coaching change very possible, especially with Joe Burrow giving the team outstanding quarterback play. Close losses and playing hard aren’t good enough in year two for Taylor, or at least they shouldn’t be.
Can the Bengals find a consistent offensive line?
Joe Burrow has been sacked three or more times in all but two games this year. Sacks are not always on the offensive line alone, but the amount of time Burrow has spent on the turf is the story of the first eight games.
The good news is that Cincinnati did not give up a sack against the Titans. Injuries and poor play forced Cincinnati into a starting offensive line that no one could have envisioned prior to that game, but it worked. Rookie sixth-round draft pick Hakeem Adeniji was particularly impressive. Cincinnati appears poised to take a good look at him.
Time will tell if Cincinnati sticks with the same starting offensive line group this week as they face a Steelers pass rush that is among the best in football. Regardless, the Bengals would love not to have to spend yet another offseason with the offensive line as the main issue.