By Conrad Clowers
Cincinnati Herald Contributor
It was bound to happen sooner or later. Two years ago, Joe Burrow had his knee devoured by an all-to-common sack. In 2021, Cincinnati went to the Super Bowl. Usually, the teams that go to the Super Bowl aren’t necessarily just good, but are good and lucky. Last season the Bengals dodged having any key people hurt. Sure, there was a minor injury here or there, but nothing devastating to the team of destiny.
Here in 2022, eh,..story is a little different. Two Bengals have had their season derailed by injuries. D.J Reader is unquestionably the Bengals best run stuffer. When reader is in the lineup, teams often have to alter run paths and blocking schemes just to plan for the mammoth defensive lineman. An ankle injury has sidelined Reader for multiple games. This has allowed teams to open up the run game against Cincinnati, a team that has developed into one of the NFL’s top defenses.
Reader’s injury was only the icing of injuries. The Bengals have also lost top playmaker Ja’Marr Chase for multiple games. Chase suffered a hip injury that could keep him out 4-6 weeks. Chase is arguably the Bengals biggest difference maker, not named Joe Burrow.
Chase’s absence showed this past week against Cleveland. The Bengals, for the first time this season, were absolutely torched. The offense looked out of sorts without their biggest threat and didn’t even get in the endzone until the second half. A 32-13 final against the arch rival from the north leaves the Bengals 0-3 in the division and 4-4 overall.
The loss of Chase could be a test. The Kansas City Chiefs in the off season lost the NFL’s biggest playmaker in Tyrek Hill. The team has yet to miss a beat in Hill’s absence. Kansas City still remains one of the NFL’s most potent offenses and are in a familiar place…which is first.
Cincinnati will now be faced with the same type of situation. The team has nine games remaining to be in a position to make a second Super Bowl run in as many years. The worst part about it is the most difficult portion of the Bengals schedule remains in those nine games, including Buffalo and Kansas City.
Cincinnati will next face off with the Carolina Panthers before heading into the bye week. The one good thing is at some point this season Reader and Chase are expected to be back with the team. The only question is will the return of the stars be too late.