The Cincinnati Bengals face the Detroit Lions and Joe Burrow has to be rock solid in this game. Let’s take a look at three ways he can excel against the Lions.
3. Have better pocket awareness; recognize the pressure
Joe Burrow has been outstanding in many areas this season at QB but one thing he has struggled with at times is recognizing pressure and sensing when the pocket is collapsing.
Knowing when to throw the ball away instead of trying to force a play is crucial and against the Lions, helping them by committing careless turnovers is a way for them to stay in the game and keep it competitive. Burrow’s first interception against Green Bay last Sunday referred back to this point when he scrambled to the right, and instead of throwing it away, he threw an underthrown ball that got picked off.
Those are the type of things that can’t happen as the season continues to develop. However, Burrow is a student of the game, so that he will learn from his mistakes, and he has already started doing that.
But in this one against Detroit, if the Bengals can stay ahead of the chains, and Burrow can make the right decisions, recognize pressure and get the ball out quickly, Cincinnati shouldn’t have trouble moving the ball against the Lions’ defense if the play-calling is on point. Burrow is one of the best QBs in passing against the blitz this season with a 91.4 grade 2nd behind only Tom Brady. But regardless, constantly being put under pressure is not what we want to see each week.
2. Take more shots down the field
Cincinnati has been one of the best teams with passes 35+ yards this season, but they haven’t done it all that much. When they have the Burrow, and Chase connection has been unstoppable.
But the conservative play-calling has held back this offense in many different aspects. So if the Bengals can take more shots down the field, it will open up the defense more. Especially helping with the run game because it will force the Lions to place safeties or corners in the back end to make sure players like Chase or Higgins won’t take the top off the defense.
Burrow has one of the highest passing ratings according to Pro Football Focus on passes 40+ yards. Burrow and Chase have connected on four touchdowns that went for 30 or more yards this season. The longest was a 70-yard touchdown against the Packers last Sunday.
Joe Burrow also has a 128.5 passing rating on 20+ yards as well. Zac Taylor will have to be a dynamic play-caller in this game and ensure the offense is firing on all phases and playing complete foot.
1. Control the clock and implement a run game
When the Bengals play their best football, they get Joe Mixon involved and the ball at least 20-25 times a game. Of course, if his ankle isn’t 100% still, you could be more of 10-15 with a mix of Chris Evans, but regardless the Bengals need to get the run game going.
It opens up so many options and expands the playbook. It forces a defense to play you differently, which will allow you to throw the ball down the field, just like when your complete passes down the field, it opens up holes to run. Bengals have struggled to find both simultaneously, but this offense is more than capable of accomplishing this.
Against a troubled Detroit defense, this would be the perfect week to get things clicking again. Joe Mixon is currently 5th in rushing in the entire league. Getting him going is one of the most vital things to the success of the Bengals’ offense. The Lions have allowed over 100+ rushing yards to every opponent they have faced this season except the Packers, although the Packers still went over 90 yards on the ground. Their run defense has not been good.
You need to take advantage of those weaknesses. Samaje Perine got put on the COVID-19 list on Monday, which will probably keep him out Sunday or make him a minimal participant, considering he hasn’t practiced all week.
Chris Evans will finally get to see a clear opportunity alongside Mixon. I’d expect them to split carries, but I do see Mixon witnessing a rise in touches compared to last week. I don’t know if Joe will go over 20 rushes, but I could see it being in the 15-20 range.