The Cincinnati Bengals offense is a heap of hot garbage right now, and it threatens to ruin Joe Burrow.
The Bengals have allowed 13 sacks through two games. They are on a 110.5-sack pace, which would break the record of 104 sacks allowed set by the 1986 Philadelphia Eagles. The Bengals are on that record pace after allowing Burrow to get sacked a league-high 51 times in 2021 and after losing Burrow to an ACL tear after 32 sacks in just 10 games in 2020.
Burrow is under siege despite the fact that the Bengals added veterans La'el Collins, Alex Cappa, and Ted Karras to their offensive line this season. And of course, the defending AFC champions are 0-2 after losses to a pair of beatable opponents: the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dak Prescott-less Dallas Cowboys. The Bengals currently rank dead last in the NFL in offensive DVOA.
There are multiple culprits for the Bengals' September sack-tastrophe: Collins, rookie left guard Cordell Volson, left tackle Jonah Williams, head coach Zac Taylor, and Burrow himself, plus all credit where due to edge rushers such as T.J. Watt and Micah Parsons.
Isolating the Bengals pass protection problem isn't going to be easy. Finding potential solutions will be even trickier. But it must be done, because more than the 2022 season is on the line if Burrow starts flirting with all-time sack records.
The La'el Collins/Jonah Williams Problem
When it comes to La'el Collins' issues so far this season, one image is worth a thousand words.
Granted, Micah Parsons caused video game glitches against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line too. But he actually did this to Collins twice, silly spin cycle and all: Burrow just got rid of the ball at the last moment on the second occasion.
Here's another ugly rep for both Collins and the whole Bengals line, as well as more support for Parsons' early Defensive Player of the Year case.
The Cowboys rush three defenders on that play, and the Bengals block with six, yet Burrow still takes a clean-up sack from Leighton Vander Esch, largely because Parsons spins inside of Collins and forces Burrow to move.
Collins has allowed at least two sacks and multiple pressures this season. He has also committed a pair of false starts. Jonah Williams was responsible for multiple sacks in the Steelers loss. If the Bengals' issue were just a Parsons or T.J. Watt problem, it could be easily solved. But it's also an Alex Highsmith and Dorance Armstrong problem. It has been open season on Burrow off both the right and left edges for two straight games.