It’s not secret that the Cincinnati Bengals aren’t off to the best start after starting the season 0-2 for the second straight year in a row. The Bengals' offense was a shell of itself against the Browns after accumulating a measly three points, and they couldn’t click until late in the second half against the Ravens.
With the Rams coming to town for a Super Bowl LVI rematch, let’s take a look at three major problems the Bengals need to fix before their Monday Night showing on prime time.
3. Explosive Plays
This has been the Bengals’ greatest strength in the past two years, but currently, it’s a thorn in their side. Although the Ravens and Browns both have stout secondaries, the lack of downfield movement is frightening.
Joe Burrow throwing go routes was virtually non-existent. This was in part due to Ja'Marr Chase being locked down by opposing cornerbacks, yet he cannot be their entire wide receiver room. Cincinnati has the consensus top wide receiver trio in the league, yet none of them can seem to get open.
Instead of dumping off a checkdown to Joe Mixon, Burrow needs to throw more 50/50 balls up for Higgins and Chase, trusting in his receivers.
2. Offensive Line
After signing Orlando Brown Jr. in free agency, the Bengals line looked good for the first time since Andrew Whitworth left for the Rams. Brown posted a decent 66.7 grade, yet Burrow has still taken three sacks in two games.
While this is an improvement, the offensive line needs to give Burrow more time in pass protection. This line’s run-blocking has been good enough to get the job done as Mixon averaged 4.4 yards per carry, not a bad bump from 3.9 in 2022. La’el Collins being cut last week means that Zac Taylor believes in this unit with a potential Super Bowl on the line. It’s time for them to step up and protect Joe Burrow.
1. Getting That First First Down
The past two weeks, it has been the same story. The Bengals defense is able to force a punt and the offense gets the ball. A pair of check-downs to Mixon and an incomplete pass on third down brings out the punt team.
Getting that first first down on each drive is vital to establishing a rhythm on offense. However, there is not any one player to blame for this, it’s a group effort.
Week 3 against the Rams will be a good matchup to see if the Bengals can get some positive plays on offense to start the game. Los Angeles has a high-flying offense, but a thin defense outside of Aaron Donald on the d-line.
The game will most likely be a shoot-out and establishing rhythm will be key on each drive. Gaining 10 yards before taking a shot downfield is a necessity for Cincinnati's starting 11. The o-line needs to give Burrow time, receivers need to create separation, Mixon needs to keep the defense honest, and Burrow needs to facilitate the offense while pushing the ball downfield.