The Cincinnati Bengals spent the offseason upgrading the offensive line after Joe Burrow got banged around last season. Through two weeks, it’s been more of the same.
Burrow was sacked six times in Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, taking his total to 13 to open the 2022 campaign.
“I think we’ve given up too many sacks, absolutely,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said Sunday bluntly.
Burrow’s 13 sacks lead the NFL, with Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (dealing with a back injury) coming in second with 10.
It was the first time in Burrow’s career he’s been sacked six-plus times in back-to-back games — first QB with such a streak since Matt Ryan in 2019 (Weeks 12-13).
“It’s all frustrating,” Taylor said when asked about the sacks. “We’ve given ourselves an opportunity to win these games against good teams, so once things settle down, I know that we’re going to be a really good football team.”
The last QB to take 13-plus sacks through Week 2 and go on to start more than 10 games was David Carr, who did so twice (2002 and 2005; led NFL in sacks each year). Carr set an NFL record for sacks taken (78) in a season in 2002. Burrow led the NFL with 51 sacks taken in 2021.
Burrow credited the Cowboys’ defensive front for disrupting the Bengals’ offense, which was disjointed all game.
“They have a great rush, I would say top two or three best rushed in the league,” Burrow said. “They’ve got Demarcus Lawrence, Micah (Parsons), they do a really good job with their picks in game, too. And so, early in the game, you’re going to have those and I can do a better job of getting the ball out quickly. I thought, for the most part, we protected the ball well in those situations and that was my goal this week. And then in the second half, I thought the offensive line protected great. We kind of warmed-up in the run game and then we’re able to have some more time in the pass game and that’s what comes off of that. When we’re able to run the ball well, they might be thinking ‘run’ and so then they’re not so quick to get into their pass rush. So, the second half was more efficient, better for us, but just need to prolong that for the entire game.”
It was clear for long stretches that the Bengals didn’t trust the offensive line to sustain their blocks long enough for Burrow to test the Cowboys’ secondary. Burrow threw just one pass of over 20 air yards all game, with 25 of his 36 attempts coming within 9 yards of the line of scrimmage, per Next Gen Stats.
La’el Collins, one of the linemen brought in to help protect Burrow, struggled against his former team and was called for two false starts.
“We don’t want our quarterback getting hit, getting sacked,” Collins said. “None of that. But, end of the day, we gotta put this behind us. We have two games in 10 days, so we gotta get ready for it.”
The Bengals are the first team to start 0-2 after making the Super Bowl since the 2015 Seahawks. That season, Seattle finished 10-6 and made the postseason as a wild-card team. If Cincy is to dig themselves out of the hole, it’ll start with a Week 3 game against the New York Jets before hosting the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football in Week 4.
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