In the afterglow of a Super Bowl run in the 2021 season, the Cincinnati Bengals have found nothing but frustration so far in the 2022 campaign.
Back-to-back three-point losses have the Bengals sitting at 0-2 and grumbles about a Super Bowl hangover have begun.
Nonetheless, head coach Zac Taylor is confident his 2022 Bengals will look a lot more like the 2021 group shortly.
“There’s a confidence here that you can’t just manufacture,” Taylor said in an interview with the team website’s Geoff Hobson. “It’s an earned confidence and our guys know that we’ll get back on the right track.”
History isn’t in Taylor’s favor, however.
The Bengals are the first team to make a Super Bowl and start the ensuing season 0-2 since 2015. That year, the Seattle Seahawks rebounded to go 10-6 before losing in the Divisional Round to the Carolina Panthers. Only six teams have followed a Super Bowl berth with an 0-2 start with half of them failing to make the playoffs and none of them returning to the Super Bowl, per NFL Research.
Despite emerging as AFC champions last season, the Bengals’ 2022 start is more consistent with years prior under Taylor. Cincinnati has now begun a season 0-2 for the third time in his four seasons. Still, Taylor’s confident because he believes this is a far different ambush of Bengals than those in the 2019 and 2020 campaigns.
“We know that we’ve got great players,” Taylor said. “We know that the character is where it needs to be, a lot of the leadership. Guys understand what our issues have been and how solvable they are, and that we just need to go forward and put together a better, complete game. I feel really good that everyone’s on the same page and we’ll work in that direction.”
On the positive side for the Bengals has been the defense, which has given up just 43 points over the first two games. On the negative end is that franchise quarterback Joe Burrow has been sacked 13 times so far behind a rebuilt offensive line that was the franchise’s focus in the offseason.
A road trip to play the New York Jets, fresh off a stunning rally to victory over the Cleveland Browns, awaits in Week 3. There are 15 games remaining for Cincinnati, but it still doesn’t shake off the feeling that time is quickly running out to erase a bad start in the hopes of salvaging a good season.
“I think in the early stages of any season you’ve got to adjust and you start to get into your groove,” Taylor said. “That’s going to come for us as a team, I’m very confident in that. So far through two games, we just haven’t complemented each phase the way that we need to, but it’s two games into a long season. I’m confident that we’re going to get there in very short order.”
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