New-look Cincinnati Bengals offensive line says it’s gaining confidence from tight end Joe Burrow as sacks and losses pile up – ESPN

New-look Cincinnati Bengals offensive line says it's gaining confidence from tight end Joe Burrow as sacks and losses pile up - ESPN

CINCINNATI — One main goal for the winless Cincinnati Bengals is pretty clear after their 0-2 start to the season.

After a quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked 13 times total in the first two games, center Ted Karras said the team needs to make its franchise cornerstone more comfortable in the pocket.

“That’s our biggest goal here going forward — to help our guy have confidence in us, to earn his confidence,” Karras said Monday. “I feel like it’s something we haven’t done yet.”

Burrow was sacked six times in a 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday; he was sacked seven times in a season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the 13 total sacks to start the season are tied for the most during that stretch in the past 20 years.

Against Dallas, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said the Cowboys provided a lot of stunts and twists on which a second passer was the one who ended up getting a sack or pressure.

“He looked comfortable moving around,” Callahan said of Burrow. “He sees it well. When you end up in those spots where you miss one guy and here comes a second one, it becomes a little difficult.”

Karras, who the team signed as its new center this offseason after spending last season with the New England Patriots, said blocking well and giving Burrow clean pockets is the best way to make him feel comfortable. But Karras echoed Callahan’s point and said that anytime there is late pressure on a play, it can swing a quarterback.

“We want him to feel like those hits aren’t going to come,” Karras said.

Cincinnati’s sack problem comes on the heels of a Super Bowl run in which protecting Burrow was a major issue. The Bengals surrendered 19 sacks in four playoff games in 2021. The Los Angeles Rams, who beat Cincinnati in the Super Bowl, allowed just seven sacks.

Cincinnati has four new starters on the offensive line, with a left tackle Jonah Williams the only remnant of the last season. Bengals right tackle La’el Collinswho was previously with the Cowboys before signing with Cincinnati this offseason, said it’s up to the offensive linemen to find chemistry with each other.

“This is our first time playing together, these first two weeks,” Collins said. “I think we’ll be fine. We’ll get on the same page and just start doing what we do, and that comes out and sets the tone. Lock it in and own it.”

Not all of Cincinnati’s sack problems fall squarely on the players on the line of scrimmage. Burrow took the blame for several of them in Week 1 against the Steelers.

Callahan chalked up the recent struggles to several factors, ranging from poor communication to good opponents. But that doesn’t mitigate where things stand for the Bengals after two games.

“For us to get to where we want to get, ultimately it has to be a lot better than it was all around,” Callahan said.

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