Burrow has done plenty to give the Bengals chances to win through the first three games, but too many drives have ended in field goals instead of touchdowns, and the defense hasn’t been able to come up with stops in two-minute situations.
Cincinnati ranks tied for 28th with just 44.4 percent of red zone trips resulting in touchdowns, as the Bengals have four field goals and four touchdowns on nine trips inside the 20-yard line.
Running back Giovani Bernard said that’s just a lack of finishing on the part of the entire offense.
“(Kicker) Randy (Bullock) has done a great job, but the biggest thing is, for us, we gotta go down there and score,” Bernard said. “That’s a four-point difference in a lot of cases. You add those four points to a lot of the games, we might come out with a win. When we get down to the red zone, we gotta come away with touchdowns. Whatever which way that might be —whether it’s going empty or if it’s going all the receivers out on the field, whatever it is that coach Taylor comes up with, we gotta go out there and just execute it.”
Burrow said he will do whatever it takes to get a win, and so far the Bengals have relied on his arm.
In a tie with the Eagles on Sunday, he completed 31 of 44 passes (70.5 percent completion rate) for 312 yards and two touchdowns, and his 91 total completions so far are the most by any player in their first three games in NFL history. He’s managed that while also taking a league-worst 14 sacks, including eight against the Eagles, which Burrow downplayed.
“Everyone talks about the hits and the sacks,” Burrow said. “My style of play, I’m going to get hit. You know I’m going to try to extend the play as much as I can, and that’s something that I’m going to have to live with and I’ve lived with it. I understand that’s going to happen. There were a couple times where I held the ball a little too long at the end of the half and at the end of the game that, you know, the eight sacks were kind of misleading, because end of the half and end of the game you don’t want to turn it over. You don’t want the clock to stop, so I took a couple sacks on purpose.”
There have been other times he’s avoided sacks with his elusiveness. He pirouetted out of one on Sunday and found rookie receiver Tee Higgins along the sideline at the last moment while coach Zac Taylor was yelling for him to throw it away. Higgins caught the ball but the completion was reversed upon review. Burrow said those are the types of plays he expects to make out of the pocket.
Asked about the balance between trying to make a play and avoiding a hit, Burrow said it just depends on the situations and understanding where he is on the field.
“I understand when and when not to, situations of the game,” he said. “You know, if it’s second-and-long, you know you’re getting close to taking a sack just get rid of the ball and play third-and-8 instead of third-and-15. But you know on the one, it was second-and-15 and in my mind there was not a lot of difference between second-and-15 and third-and-20 so I’m going to extend that play a little longer than I would have otherwise.”