The Cincinnati Bengals entered Week 4 with a chance to be 2-2 after their 0-2 start. It felt all too likely, as the Tennessee Titans looked atrocious in Week 3 and the Bengals defense was coming off an amazing performance on Monday night.
Well, that victory was short-lived, as the Bengals got trounced by the Titans. It was 24-3 at the half and the Titans ended up winning 27-3. The Titans had one of the worst offenses in the league coming into this game but they carved up the Bengals defense. Meanwhile, Cincy's offense continued to be putrid despite starting the game off hot.
What has happened to this team? Let's look at some takeaways from the worrisome loss.
Offense continues to struggle
It all started off so well, as the Bengals offense was working its way down the field with ease. They settled for a field goal that put them on the board with a 3-0 lead. They wouldn't score again for the rest of the game.
It's clear that Joe Burrow's injury is bothering him yet he continued to play when the team was not in a position to come back and win. He finished with barely over 100 yards passing and the offensive line didn't protect him well at all. The run game couldn't get going but the team probably stopped trying after they fell so far behind.
This offense is not going to fly. If Burrow is injured badly enough that he can't play to the level the Bengals need to, then it's time to bench him, let him rest, and put Jake Browning in. This season might not be going anywhere anyway so why risk further injury to the highest-paid player in the league?
Defense looks like a shell of itself
I won't lie -- When I saw the Browns demolish the Titans offensive line and hit Ryan Tannehill all afternoon long last week, I thought for sure that the Bengals defense would replicate that performance. After all, the Titans didn't have Treylon Burks and their offense was already playing poorly. The defense is going to eat, right?
The defense did hit Tannehill and took him to the ground but it didn't matter. The Titans offense carved up the Bengals D, totaling over 350 yards and even perfectly executing a Derrick Henry touchdown pass before half time.
Lou Anarumo has a reputation for being a magician but his defense has looked bad through three of the four games this season. If the offense can't score points and the defense can't stop anybody, this is going to be a long season, folks.
Not only is Burrow dealing with an injury but we saw both Tee Higgins and Cam Taylor-Britt leave the game with different injuries. The Bengals have been able to make deep playoff runs the past few years due to avoiding the injury bug but that hasn't been the case so far in this young season.
These injuries might end up defining the 2023 season, unfortunately.