I feel like this is getting repetitive. I feel like this is getting old. And quite frankly, I’m beginning to feel like something needs to change. I don’t know where, but there’s something that has to change or “click” within the organization so to speak.
Sunday’s matchup against the Tennesee Titans showed more of the disconnect I’ve written about previously. Sunday’s matchup also led to a visibly frustrated Ja’Marr Chase getting some things off of his mind in a post-game locker room scrum. “I’m open. I’m always f*cking open”, snapped a frustrated Chase after the Bengals were dismantled 27-3 by the Titans.
Chase’s frustration is somewhat valid and possibly somewhat misplaced. The one thing we can be sure of is that there needs to be a change within the structure of the offense. Specifically the offensive line. While Ja’Marr Chase truly is open more often than not, he can’t get a decent pass thrown his way if the line can’t protect QB1. Something that honestly has plagued this ball club since Burrow was drafted.
Throughout four quarters of play on Sunday, I can count on one hand where I said, “There it is, there’s the Bengals team I’ve been waiting to see.” I did, however, see some very obvious holes in the offense as a whole and one specific spot, defensively.
The first drive started off looking like Bengals football. It looked like it could be a long day for the Titans. At least until the opening drive was stopped short of the goal line for 3pts. But honestly, this was the best drive all season and it looked like there was a rhythm being initiated. All they had to do was dictate what happened at the line of scrimmage; specifically when it came to Derrick Henry. And for a little while, that happened. Even after busted coverage on a 4th and 2 conversion. Yet shortly into the second quarter, there was a sense of things going down a downward slope. Fast.
The offensive line needs to be reworked and figured out immediately. I understand that as a quarterback, being the leader of the team, Joe Burrow will likely get most of the blame; especially since he’s not playing at 100%. The one thing I am not hearing anyone address though, is how he’s running for his life on nearly every dropback. Any good coach will tell you that if the line is out of sync, then that respective side of the ball will be out of sync as a whole. The problem is when your offense is so out of sync that they can’t stay on the field, the defense wears down, thus, giving way to turmoil on both sides of the ball.
With 5:34 left in the first half that turmoil revealed itself in the form of Titans rookie Tyjae Spears picking up a ball that he fumbled and proceeding to rush for twenty-two yards. Follow that up with another twenty-two-yard gainer by Westbrook-Ikhine, which then led to a twenty-nine-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry. Annnnnd then there came the trick play that saw the entire Bengals linebacker corps shift on a trick play where Henry proceeded to throw a touchdown pass. See what I mean? Turmoil on both sides of the ball.
No words. Seriously. Just more and more questions.
Those questions I was speaking about? Let’s start with why isn’t Joe Mixon getting the ball more? Midway through the final quarter, the former University of Oklahoma running back found himself gaining five or more yards on three consecutive plays. Right after this, Joe Burrow drops back and is sacked for ten yards. The defense at this point looks exhausted and this just made things worse. But eventually, something’s gotta give, right?
We’re now at the point in the NFL season where teams are potentially showing you who they will be by the end of the season. Some teams turn things around, and others just validate what the NFL world has been thinking since Week 1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until they do the opposite but the Cincinnati Bengals have the talent and the potential to make some major noise before this season is all said and done. But if there is no clarity within the offense (particularly the interior positions), then we will be in for a very long and disappointing year.
Head coach Zac Taylor has said that Joe Burrow will be a starter this weekend when the Bengals travel west for a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. While his production is a day and night difference from the last two seasons, this could be the bounce-back game that this team needs. Time will tell which direction they’re going and this week absolutely has to be a “Prove It” showing.