Remember when the Cincinnati Bengals were riding high after a big Week 1 win over the Minnesota Vikings? Any goodwill that the Bengals had with their fans disappeared last week. Against the Chicago Bears in Week 2, the Bengals reminded their fans of the reasons they were worried heading into the season.
Now the Bengals head to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. Pittsburgh is a 4.5 point favorite according to BetMGM’s NFL betting lines. The Bengals will have to fix some issues on offense, including the team’s offensive line play, aggressiveness, and turnover problems.
Can Joe Burrow and this Bengals team play like they did in Week 1, or did the Chicago Bears expose too many offensive weaknesses? Read on to find out.
Burrow Has to Be More Aggressive
The Cincinnati Bengals roster has talented young receivers and a quarterback who threw for an SEC record 5,671 yards two years ago. So why isn’t Zac Taylor dialing up more shots down the field?
Burrow has thrown 57 pass attempts this year, and only seven of them have been at least 15-yards downfield. However, when Taylor has given Burrow the chance to throw downfield, the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback has had success.
Burrow connected with Ja’marr Chase on a 50-yard touchdown in Week 1 and a 42-yard touchdown in Week 2. The reason the Bengals aren’t throwing the ball down the field has nothing to do with Burrow, Taylor, or the receivers. It’s the offensive line.
The Offensive Line Is Still Finding Its Way
The Bengals signed Riley Reiff and Trey Hendrickson this offseason to shore up their offensive line. With Burrow coming off an ACL injury, the investments made sense.
It doesn’t look like the Bengals did enough to fix their offensive line issues two weeks into the season. Luckily for Cincinnati, Ja’marr Chase performs well because the Bengals received heat for passing on an offensive lineman with their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Burrow has been sacked a staggering nine times in the first two games.
Zac Taylor and his offensive coaches must find a way to protect Burrow long enough for him to find receivers downfield. Joe Mixon is a capable back, and Tyler Boyd is an effective short-yard receiver, but the team has the best chance of scoring points when Burrow can find Tee Higgins or Chase deep.
Will Zac Taylor’s Scheme Work in Year 3?
This is Zac Taylor’s third season with the Bengals, and so far, the results have been mixed. He has the weapons on offense to score three touchdowns every game, but he has to contend with an offensive line that isn’t protecting their quarterback.
Taylor may start bringing tight ends in to block and running more play action. If he can give Burrow enough time to get his eyes downfield, this Bengals team could become the NFL betting darling for those who love to bet the over.
Projecting the Cincinnati Bengals Offense in 2021
The Cincinnati Bengals have shown that they can hit big plays on offense, but they’ve also shown the Joe Burrow needs better protection before that can happen. The weapons are there, but it’s on Zac Taylor and company to find ways to give Burrow enough time to throw.
If you think the Bengals can put on an offensive show, it may be worth adding them to your King of the Weekend list on BetMGM.com. Predict the highest-scoring offenses in Week 3, and you could walk away with $50,000.