The Cincinnati Bengals opened their 2023 regular season with a 24-3 stinker against the Cleveland Browns. While the Bengals have been prone to slow starts over the past few seasons, it's getting tiresome watching them look downright horrendous in the first game of the year.
During the atrocious double-digit loss, several Bengals players were nowhere to be seen. Whether it was someone on offense who is usually catching passes and bailing Joe Burrow out of tough moments or a young defensive player who fans have a lot of expectations for, these Bengals were nowhere to be found during the 24-3 loss to the in-state rival Browns.
3. Run Defense
In two games against the Browns last year, there were two very different stat lines for Nick Chubb. In one game, he rushed the ball 23 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns. In the second game, he rushed the ball only 14 times for 34 yards.
The difference in those games was that D.J. Reader was present for one and not the other. Bengals fans were hoping that with a healthy Reader, Chubb wouldn't be able to pop off big runs.
Well, not only did Chubb finish the day with over 100 yards rushing but Deshaun Watson also dashed for 45 yards and a touchdown. The Browns rushing attack totaled 40 carries for 206 yards and a touchdown during their tilt with the Stripes.
For what it's worth, Reader was solid in the run defense but it was the rest of the group that struggled. When the Bengals fell behind by multiple scores, the Browns kept running the ball until Cincinnati could show it could stop them and it couldn't.