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Will Bengals Be The Exception After Starting 0-2?

Cincinnati lost 20-17 in Dallas on Sunday to fall to 0-2 on the season.
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You know the bleak history that comes with an 0-2 start to the NFL season. Since the merger in 1970 just 38 of 400 teams have made the playoffs after starting 0-2. 

The 2018 Texans and the Seahawks managed to accomplish this feat, although both teams lost in the wildcard round.

Teams to start the year with two straight goose eggs in the win column have averaged just 5.4 wins. Can you really fathom a team led by Joe Burrow producing less than six wins? 

This is the 19th time Cincinnati has started 0-2. The Bengals have never finished with a winning record or made the playoffs in those years. Could 2022 be the exception to the rule? 

History clearly tells us that the prospect of a winning year is thin, but Burrow has a certain it factor that gives the team more confidence than usual. 

A 17-game season also adds another layer to things. It's an added opportunity to get a much needed win, but if a miracle is going to happen for the Cincinnati Bengals, they must fix their underlying issues that have plagued them to start the 2022 season.

Burrow is uncomfortable in the pocket as he leads the league in a stat that no team with a revamped offensive line wants to see. He's been sacked 13 times in two games. The Bengals front office spent a lot of money in the offseason attempting protect Burrow. So far that plan is not coming to fruition.

“We don’t want our quarterback getting hit, getting sacked,” La’el Collins said. “None of that. But, end of the day, we gotta put this behind us. We have two games in 10 days, so we gotta get ready for it.”

Cincinnati's extremely talented offense has been inefficient this season. They averaged just 3.8 yards per play against the Cowboys. 

Conservative play is not serving this team well. Burrow is consistently under duress which seems to have lead to settling for check downs and shying away from the deep ball, or attacking the middle of the field. 

Burrow and others have made mistakes and missed assignments but if a play design fails a quarterback's coach must have answers for him. 

Discipline in execution and mechanics. 

Through two games the Bengals have had 11 penalties for 62 yards.

“We’ve been having false starts and penalties,” Ja’Marr Chase said on Sunday. “First quarter, second quarter, first half period. Not executing our plays right. That’s the only thing that is really holding us back that I can see.”

It took Cincinnati until the fourth quarter to sufficiently execute a drive for a touchdown against the Cowboys on Sunday. They didn't score a touchdown until the third quarter in their Week 1 loss to Pittsburgh.

“I feel like, as a whole, we have to take initiative. Everybody. Coaches, players, everybody is involved with everything,” Joe Mixon said. “I’m not going to finger point or anything like that. We have to put it on us to come out and execute. Be ready to play. For some reason, it seems like we’ve been coming up short in that area. We’ve been starting off slow; little penalties here and there that have been killing us. And get back on track. We just have to execute more.”

Players are starting to voice a need for cohesion. Getting a sing.e win on Sunday is extremely hard. Alone, each player is a talent superlative and as you saw last year, when they do play together the visual effect on the field is stunning.

“If it is one person who doesn’t make a block, or one receiver who doesn’t run a certain route the right way—one person could jeopardize the whole play,” Tyler Boyd said. “You can’t point any fingers at all. Because we started together, we are going to end together. We have to find a way. We have to figure this out ASAP.”

Just eight teams in league history have returned to the Super Bowl stage the year after losing the biggest game of the year. The 1971 Cowboys, the Dolphins in 1972, the Vikings in 1973, the Broncos in 1987, the Bills from 1991-93 and the Patriots most recently in 2018. 

If the Bengals are going to become an exception to the 0-2 rule and sniff the postseason, while also avoiding the "Super Bowl hangover," they need to fully understand their problems and make the corrections as quickly as possible with a road game on tap in New York against the Jets, followed by a short week against the 2-0 Miami Dolphins. 

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