For the 100th time in NFL History, the Cincinnati Bengals faced off against the Clevland Browns. This was a contest that saw the Bengals traveling three and a half hours Northeast to Cleveland to take on the Browns in what was a sloppy and underwhelming performance. To begin the NFL season, let’s break down the Cincinnati Bengals over four quarters of play.
Whether it was the calf that could be seen being stretched out, the rain, or the fact that he was pressured on 3 of the first five dropbacks, Joe Burrow did not look like himself at all. Nobody did throughout the course of four quarters.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the defense started off solid. The run defense left something to be desired, but for a few drives, Deshaun Watson and company looked completely flustered. Until Nick Chubb got going and that was an igniter to their offense. And to be honest, the Bengals had a chance to get into a flow, until the second quarter.
Throughout my time as a football player and coach, I began to understand that you could dictate the flow of a game based on the second and third quarter efforts. At no point can you find a rhythm with three consecutive drives ending in punts. A lot of this falls on the offensive line but some credit has to be given to the defensive line and the defensive backs for the Browns. Their pressure was relentless and it seemed as though the Bengals were waiting to get to halftime to regroup.
One of the main things that needed to be focused on was how to scheme for Myles Garrett. I was excited to see him vs. Orlando Brown Jr. but that matchup was all Garrett. It seemed as though no matter where he was on the field, there was pressure on Joe Burrow. That pressure led to seven first half punts and more in the third and fourth quarters. Even with a glove on his throwing hand, Burrow was never able to see enough time in the pocket to let the play develop or get comfortable with his calf still not at 100%. The offensive line essentially flatlined.
Today, commentators mentioned how Myles Garrett wanted to be a better leader and take more of a charge on the field. It showed. The Browns had the one thing that the Bengals lacked today: Identity. And that was on both sides of the ball. The longer the game went on, the more Cincinnati’s confidence and belief in themselves because there was opportunity after opportunity, until the fourth quarter and there seemed to be no way out.
Does that feel like a light or like it was missing something? That was what the game felt like as well. The bright side? It’s only Week One. The Bengals looked lost but the fire that took them to the AFC Championship last season can be found again.
Next week, the Bengals host the Baltimore Ravens for their home opener at Paycor Stadium. I would expect them to not look like the “Bungles” of years past but instead, I’m predicting that Joe Burrow will be in MVP form and the rest of the team will follow. I got this one going sour for Baltimore by the tune of a 35-17 win for a Bengals team that is sure to be recharged and motivated to put the league on notice.