Taylor said the offensive line only was responsible for four of the eight sacks that Joe Burrow took Sunday, as the receivers and tight ends also were involved in missed blocks or assignments, but the linemen have made some “mental errors that are unacceptable” and there are some details that could help the running game get going better.
“We’ve got to continue to improve up there,” Taylor said. “We’ve got two guys on the left side up there have played probably a combined 10 games in their NFL career and we’re only going to get better. Those guys are accountable to what they can improve on. It’s never as bad as you think it is, and there’s some things that we’re improving on and we’ll continue to improve on as the season goes.”
Left tackle Jonah Williams missed his entire rookie season last year, and left guard Michael Jordan was benched midway through his rookie campaign in 2019 before winning his spot back. Center Trey Hopkins has been the most consistent player, but Taylor noted that right tackle Bobby Hart’s play has been impacted by the constant changes beside him even dating back to last year.
Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said it is concerning how many times Burrow has gotten hit, though. The Eagles had 18 quarterback hits on him, and he’s been sacked a league-worst 14 times in three games. Cincinnati is trying to find ways to help him besides just blaming the offensive line – and some of it falls on Burrow, too.
“The play is never over for him,” Callahan said. "He does everything he can to keep it alive and some times that leads to hits and sacks, and I don’t think we’re ever going to take that away from him because I think you saw ultimately what that can do when you can get out and break contain and make plays downfield, so, there’s things we can do.
“You can’t help every lineman every play. You do chip from the perimeter. We do plenty screens to varying degrees of success thus far. …We try to do all the things like that where we can move the launch point, move the setup point. We bring guys in to protect. We send all the guys out, let him get the ball out of his hands. There’s been a lot of things we try to do to help him take less hits. And some of those are on him.”
In terms of finding better options up front, Callahan said there’s no calvary coming in to solve the problem. It’s unlikely a Pro Bowl guard will become available in Week 4, so the Bengals are looking at everyone on deck.
Sutherland, a college free agent signee last year, was on the practice squad to start the 2019 season, but Miami signed him and he played three games there with two starts. The Dolphins waived him with final roster cuts, and the Bengals signed him to their practice squad Sept. 8. Now he will get a look on the active roster.
Adenji also is a “realistic” option, Callahan and Taylor said.