Cincinnati Bengals offensive line still having its issues

NFL Week 3, Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Burrow (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
NFL Week 3, Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Burrow (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

The defending AFC champions have dropped their first two contests in 2022. And the Cincinnati Bengals apparently still have a major problem on offense.

A year ago, this was a team that got its act together at precisely the right time. The Cincinnati Bengals had suffered through five straight losing seasons (after reaching the postseason 5 consecutive years) entering 2021. The team would eventually finish 10-7 and win the AFC North for the first time since 2015.

Offensive line still a significant problem for Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

But unlike previous teams in the franchise’s recent history, Zac Taylor’s club found a way to win in the playoffs. A home victory over the Las Vegas Raiders in the wild-card round was the Bengals’ first postseason victory since 1990.

That good feeling carried over to the next two weeks when the club surprised the top-seeded Titans at Nashville and then rallied to stun the defending AFC champion Chiefs in overtime in the conference title game – both of those contests on the road.

Cincinnati had a lead against the Rams in the fourth quarter on Super Sunday. But there was too much Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. There was also too much Aaron Donald and Von Miller, who frolicked in the Cincinnati backfield. Each had a pair of sacks and quarterback Joe Burrow was dropped seven times in the 23-20 loss.

Offensive line was obviously the priority for this team this offseason. And the Bengals did their due diligence when it came to adding veteran performers. They signed versatile Ted Karras, guard Alex Cappa, and tackle La’el Collins to free-agent deals in hopes of better play up front.

But that hasn’t transpired so far in 2022. Cincinnati has dropped a pair of three-point decisions – both on the final play of the game. They fell at home to the Steelers in overtime, 23-20. And last Sunday at Dallas, Cowboys’ kicker Brett Maher nailed a 50-yard field goal at the gun and handed Taylor’s team a 20-17 setback. And in those losses, Burrow was sacked a combined 13 times.

Keep in mind that the young quarterback played in 19 games in 2021, including the postseason, and was sacked a combined 70 times. That is some ugly math dating back to a season ago.

Next up is a visit to New Jersey and a clash with the New York Jets. Robert Saleh’s club has totaled a combined three sacks in splitting their first two games. But that team’s pass rush could get healthy very quickly if the Bengals’ offensive front performs the same as it has early in 2022.