By Matthew McAdow
On Sunday in the fourth quarter, I looked over at my dog as he was looking startled and I could only think about how confused he must have been, as the last two Sundays he has sat and watched me yell profanity at the television for 3 hours. If I was 20 years younger, I would have been washing out my mouth with a bar of soap and grounded, but if anyone watched the past two weeks of Bengals football, they would certainly understand the profanity from the recliner.
Cincinnati dropped another huge game and are now 0-2 to begin the year. By the time the game started, everyone else in the AFC North had lost and this was a huge opportunity for Cincinnati to take advantage of an injured Dallas Cowboys team. Outside of a quarter of play though, Cincinnati was dominated in nearly all aspects of the game. The streak continues, as Cincinnati hasn’t beaten the Cowboys since 2004 and haven’t pulled out a victory on the road against them since 1985. While there is still a ton of football left in the season, next week might just be a “must-win” game and panic might just set in for this organization.
• Despite how bad Cincinnati played yet again, they were still in a great position to win the game in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati had a great drive and completed another 2-point conversion when it mattered most.
• Evan McPherson continues to be the guy we count on, as he drilled three field goals with the new long snapper, Adomitis.
Negatives (It’s sad when I only have 2 positives)
• The offensive line was atrocious yet again. Cowboys players were left untouched due to miscommunication on multiple occasions and Burrow was sacked a whopping six times. At the current rate we are going, our franchise quarterback is on pace to be sacked 111 times this year. Last season, he was sacked 51 times. So much for glass eaters, huh? Frank Pollack might just be on the hot seat.
• Joe Burrow looks uncomfortable in the pocket. And who wouldn’t? He is getting pressured on nearly every snap, along with teams playing Cover 2 and forcing Cincinnati to prove they have an adequate run game.
• The last bullet point leads us to the run game…Mixon only averaged 3 yards per carry on 19 carries against Dallas, with his longest rush only being a 10 yard gain. We all know how talented Joe is, but when we are getting dominated at the line of scrimmage, what can you expect?
• Zac Taylor’s play calling has been bad for more than just the past two games, but it has truly been on display this year. I like Zac Taylor and think he is a great leader, but it might just be time to pass the torch of play calling upstairs. Every game feels like he is “in over his head” and he is simply getting out coached.
• Yards per play is becoming a major concern. This year, the Bengals are being very predictable and the playbook seems to be missing at times. Last year, the Bengals only had three games where they averaged less than 5 yards per play. This year, we are already at two…
• The attitude in Cincinnati is beginning to become toxic. In a much-anticipated season, the Bengals players, fans, and coaches are all showing frustration. Burrow yelling at Zac, stating, “No empty sets,” our trio of wide receivers with their heads down on the sideline, and the amount of anger in the Queen City is quickly coming back.
Moving on: Forgetting the past two weeks is a tough task, but there are plenty of games left. Starting 0-2 isn’t ideal, but luckily nobody in the AFC North is undefeated or playing impressive football. Cincinnati gets an easy matchup against an old division rival, Joe Flacco at MetLife Stadium. If we fall to another poor quarterback and begin the season 0-3, the panic button is engaged and the flashing red lights should be going off in the back of everyone’s mind, as we are in real trouble. The Bengals are the only team to not hold a lead at all in the first two weeks and we can’t have another cold start. If you want to remain optimistic and I am doing my best to do so, there have been three teams in history that have won the Super Bowl after starting the season 0-2 (1993 Cowboys, 2001 Patriots, and 2007 Giants). Looking ahead, Cincinnati has the Jets, Dolphins, Ravens, Saints and Falcons approaching on the schedule. Winning now is very important, as we don’t want to rely on beating the Buccaneers, Bills, Titans, and Chiefs late in the season, while playing catch-up in the standings.
I trust that Joe Burrow will turn things around, as winning is truly in his DNA. He has the “IT” factor and he is determined to turn this franchise around. Our offensive weapons, along with a top ten defense in my opinion, will still be in the playoffs this year and we can all sigh in relief. Eli Apple, La’el Collins, Jonah Williams, Cordell Volson, Alex Cappa, and many others will have to gain the trust back from the fan base, and I believe this may be a tough task for a few of them on the squad. Let’s hope they are diving into film as we speak, as miscommunication is at the root of many of their issues. Maybe it is just the optimism leftover from last season, but I believe this team will rebound in a big way against the Jets and win by 10+ points. The fan base is ready to say “Who Dey” already, and it’ll finally come to fruition on the 25th of September.