Joe Burrow: Bengals not ‘panicking’ about 0-2 start, but need to stop beating themselves

CINCINNATI -- Joe Burrow said the Cincinnati Bengals’ slow start to the season is frustrating, but there is an easy solution: They just need to stop beating themselves.

His individual performance in the opener -- when Burrow had five turnovers -- wasn’t up to standard, but the third-year quarterback thought he played well for the most part in the Week 2 loss at Dallas. Burrow believes the biggest problem has been letting the opponent’s defense dictate play because of an early lead and Cincinnati’s penalties on first and second downs.

“We get down 14-3 early, starting in first and 15s the first three drives and now they can play third-down defense and mix up the looks and they’re not afraid of the running game because they’re winning by 11 points,” Burrow said. “We’ve just got to quit beating ourselves, start faster and then we’ll get more chances.”

Burrow said the Bengals just need to “take a deep breath and relax” because there is nothing to worry about going into the Week 3 matchup against the New York Jets on the road.

The team has the talent, coaches and a clear game plan and understanding of what needs to be fixed, Burrow said. More importantly from a confidence standpoint, Cincinnati was talking about the same kind of issues throughout the 2021 season “and everyone saw how it worked out.”

While there is no need to panic, there is a lot of urgency to get on the right track.

“We’ve just gotta go out and play well this week and get a win,” Burrow said. “We can’t go down 0-3, but like I said, we’re not panicking. We’re focused on one week at a time, so we’re gonna go out there and give it our best shot this week, we’re going to have a great game plan and we’re going to execute it well.”

Burrow cleaned up the turnovers in Week 2 but still took too many sacks (six) and was forced to lead a comeback in the second half, tying the game on a 19-play drive and two-point conversion pass in the fourth quarter only to lose on a last-second field goal.

Cincinnati’s offense is supposed to be known for its explosiveness but Burrow didn’t complete a pass for more than 19 yards Sunday at Dallas. His longest pass completed in the opener was for 24 yards.

“Explosive plays are a big part of it, but like I said, if we’re getting down 14 points teams aren’t going to give us those opportunities,” Burrow said.

The penalties and early deficits have impacted the play-calling at times, but Burrow also continues to emphasize the need for more production in the running game. The Bengals haven’t gotten that going even with Joe Mixon leading the league in rushing attempts. Mixon has 139 yards on 46 carries, including a long of 31 yards and just 2.4 yards per carry outside of that one.

Losing tight end Drew Sample to a right knee injury, suffered in the second quarter Sunday, doesn’t help that. He’s best known for his run blocking, and coach Zac Taylor confirmed Wednesday that Sample will undergo surgery and be out “several months.” That makes Mitchell Wilcox and newcomer Devin Asiasi, who the Bengals claimed off waivers Aug. 31, the next men up behind Hayden Hurst.

Burrow still points to little mistakes proving too costly, though.

“I always watch who does well around the league, see what they do,” Burrow said. “(Tuesday) I did a lot of film study on a bunch of offenses that are playing well throughout the league. Common denominator? They don’t beat themselves. So you just take completions, stay in front of the sticks and you’re going to end up moving the ball down the field.”

As for the 13 sacks that have cost the Bengals yards, Burrow says he can do more to help take pressure off the offensive line, mainly just getting rid of the ball quicker.

The first two games put Cincinnati up against some of the league’s best pass rushers. Pittsburgh has led the NFL in sacks the past five years and featured 2021 Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt. Dallas had 2021 Rookie Defensive Player of the Year Micah Parsons running free too often Sunday.

Burrow said the Jets are “really good inside” with Quinnen Williams, and the Bengals are familiar with edge rusher Carl Lawson from his time in Cincinnati. Cincinnati dropped a 34-31 loss to the Jets last year and the Bengals have been watching a lot of that tape to prepare.

“That game we had to take advantage of our red-zone opportunities and we didn’t score touchdowns in the red zone at a high rate last year,” Burrow said. “But this is a new game, new team, so we’ve got a good game plan that I’m excited to execute.”

Collins, Pratt on injury report: Right tackle La’el Collins did not practice Wednesday because of a back issue. Linebacker Germaine Pratt missed practice because of a knee injury.


Bengals at Jets, 1 p.m., Ch. 7, 12; 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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