New-look Cincinnati Bengals offensive line says earning trust in Joe Burrow key as sacks, losses pile up

New-look Cincinnati Bengals offensive line says earning trust in Joe Burrow key as sacks, losses pile up

New-look Cincinnati Bengals offensive line says earning trust in Joe Burrow key as sacks, losses pile up

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

After quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked 13 times 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, earn his confidence,” Karras said Monday. “I feel like that’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 most over that stretch in the last 20 years.

Against Dallas, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said the Cowboys pulled a lot of stunts and twists where a second pass rusher was the one who ended up getting a sack or a pressure.

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

Karras, who the team signed as its new center this offseason after he spent last season with the New England Patriots, said blocking well and giving Burrow clean pockets is the best way to get him comfortable. But Karras echoed Callahan’s point, saying that when there’s pressure late in a game, it can rattle a quarterback.

“We want him to feel like these hits aren’t coming,” Karras said.

Cincinnati’s dismissal question 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 left tackle Jonah Williams the lone holdover from last season. Bengals right tackle La’el Collins, who was formerly 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, which is come out and set the tone. Lock in and own it.”

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

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

“In order for us to get to where we want to get, ultimately it has to be a lot better than it’s been kind of all the way around,” Callahan said.

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