Professional football finally arrived over this past week and I was more than excited to finally get back to watching Bengals football. We have finally got to a point where we are expecting to be the best team in football each year and it’s a great feeling. Unfortunately though, this team put together possibly its worst performance in recent memory. The final score of 24-3 isn’t what I was expecting to begin the season, but the biggest concern I have for this team is how they plan to completely turn this around in just seven days.
On the Sept. 17, they will clash with another AFC North Rival against the Baltimore Ravens and if they plan to be playing competitive football, it will have to be a completely different team that shows up next Sunday. The good news is that it was only week one and this team is more than talented enough to turn this around. This certainly isn’t the first slow start of Burrow’s career and he’s shown time and time again that there is zero reason to panic. If you’re familiar with my column, you know that I write up my positives and negatives for each game. Unfortunately, this week, it will be nearly all negatives, but I plan for next week to be writing something completely different.
· Germaine Pratt was phenomenal. He had 11 tackles, one sack, and forced a turnover. He is one of the most talented linebackers in the league.
· It was only Week One and there is plenty of time to correct this.
· Joe Burrow is known for his cold starts to the season. In 2020, he had 193 yards, one interception, and the Bengals lost. In 2022, he threw four interceptions and Cincinnati lost to Pittsburgh in a thriller. This year, he had the worst game of his career with just 82 yards, zero touchdowns, and a loss. Injuries or surgeries during the offseason have certainly played into this and it was clear to see that this team lacked reps together on the field. Joe Burrow is one of my favorite athletes of all time, but it’s time this fan base understands that you can criticize his play without it being a sin. He didn’t get it done in week one, but I trust in No. 9 to figure it out.
· Cincinnati simply looked unprepared in all aspects of the game. There was no rhythm to the offense, missed protection, poor throws, and nothing going down field. I can’t remember a single play from the game that even challenged the Browns defense.
· The offensive line still wasn’t phenomenal. I understand that Myles Garrett is one of the best in the world, but the division has plenty of good pass rushers. The miscommunication from the men up front was inexcusable.
· Tee Higgins had zero catches for zero yards. Tee would be a WR1 on half the teams in the league. For him to go an entire game without a single catch is baffling.
· Brad Robbins had a less than stellar performance. While he had a tough task considering the conditions, he failed numerous times to help in gaining field position. He is known for the hang time on his punts and I believe this was just a rough day to punt due to the weather.
· When Cincinnati could have cut the lead to four points, McPherson failed to connect on a 51-yard field goal.
· All of the wide receiver routes seemed to be go routes or back shoulders. If you look at the throw chart, there were only a few connections in the middle of the field. They have to begin getting a healthy mix.
· Burrow still didn’t look completely healthy. He was on the sideline grabbing his knee or massaging his calf multiple times. When he isn’t playing to his capabilities, it seems that this offense can never lean on the run game to get them a victory.
The Reds are in the hunt
Yes, football season is upon is, but don’t forget about the Cincinnati Reds. They are certainly still in the hunt to make the playoffs as they are only 1.5 games back from the final wildcard spot. This will likely come down to the wire as there are only 17 games left as of Monday. With an upcoming series against the Tigers, along with the Mets to follow, this is the time for them to go on a streak. They’ve gotten hot plenty of times during the course of this season and it feels that we are due to string together five games or so. While the Reds are ahead of schedule, getting into the playoffs would do a lot for the fan base of Cincinnati and give even more hope for the next few seasons of Reds baseball.
· The Reds only have one opponent remaining with a winning record. Of course, that means nothing as you still have to win the games, but they have a promising schedule to end the season.
· Joey Votto and Jonathan India have returned to the team. This was more than needed and both of them sparked the offense in their returns to the field.
· Hunter Greene is now dialed in. All of the “he is not a starter” nonsense can come to a close, as he threw another one-hit gem to go along with nine strikeouts and six innings pitched.
· Cincinnati has five win streaks this year of five games or more. They have the ability to string together games and this is a real chance for them to add to this list.
· The other Wildcard teams have a messy schedule ahead. The Cubs and Diamondbacks have a series against each other, Giants and Diamondbacks have a series, and the Cubs still have a series against the Braves and Brewers.
· In a series against the Cardinals that could have possibly had them in a current Wildcard spot, they failed to take the series and lost two of three.
· With only 17 games left, time is running thin for this team to go on a run. Another series loss and the playoff hopes may soon derail.
Matthew McAdow is a Peebles resident. He works in human resources in the nuclear industry and has been an avid Cincinnati fan his entire life. He is an Ohio Christian University graduate and has always enjoyed giving an honest opinion on multiple topics regarding Cincinnati sports.