CINCINNATI — Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has been sacked and hit a combined 25 times in the first two games of the season.
The nine sacks are tied for the second-most in the NFL and the 16 quarterback hits aren't far behind.
Head coach Zac Taylor admits the protection breakdowns have happened far too often and the sacks are unacceptable, but he isn't as worried about the hits Burrow has taken.
"We know what the conversation always is after a game like that. Nine hits, I don’t know what’s defined as a hit. If a guy puts his hand on his shoulder and barely touches him, is that a hit?" Taylor asked. "We watch the hits. I think it’s just kind of something that people run away with, not necessarily watching exactly how they all happened and what’s defined as a hit. Often times, they just push him on the shoulder and people call it, ‘That’s one of nine hits.’ I don’t even know that he knows that he got touched."
Burrow was sacked far too often last season and he ultimately suffered a torn left ACL and MCL. The hits might not be as concerning, but the third-year head coach knows the sacks have to slow down if their offense is going to be successful.
"We cannot have nine sacks through two games. It’s almost like we got nine different guys responsible for those sacks," Taylor said. "That’s what’s frustrating. If it was one piece you could just solve and say, ‘Hey, we gotta get this guy fixed because he’s given up four sacks in two games,’ that would be easy. When it’s things that are easily correctible and it’s just one guy on each play, then that’s when we get frustrated. Again, we gotta do a better job protecting the quarterback."
The offensive line deserves but of the blame, but it isn't solely their fault. Unfortunately for them, that's where the focus is going to be until the Bengals prove they can keep Burrow upright. That quest takes all 11 guys on offense to be on the same page on every play.
The Bengals' running backs have had their struggles in pass protection. Both Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine have each had gaffes in their quest to protect Burrow.
Those issues have to be fixed. Cincinnati needs to be fundamentally sound if they're going to keep Burrow clean on Sunday against Pittsburgh.
The Bengals have to shore up their protection miscues and keep the franchise upright if they want to not only upset the Steelers this week, but make a postseason run.
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