The Bengals franchise quarterback will face the guy he replaced on Sunday.
Andy Dalton spent his ninth season in Cincinnati trying to prove himself to then-new coach Zac Taylor in 2019, but ultimately the organization was ready to move on and allow Taylor to prepare. his own quarterback. The team drafted No.1 Burrow overall in 2020 and then granted Dalton’s release so he could find a better opportunity to play elsewhere. After a one-year stint with the Dallas Cowboys, Dalton signed with the Bears in March and now finds himself pushed by a rookie quarterback at Justin Fields.
Dalton beat the Bengals, 30-7, at Paul Brown Stadium last year, but Burrow had suffered his season-ending knee injury three weeks earlier, so this will be their first one-on-one fight.
“He did a great job,” Dalton said of Burrow. “Obviously, he unfortunately got injured last year, but he was doing very good things. He made a big play late last week to help the Bengals take the win. I thought it was effective. He did a lot of good things. He will have a bright future. “
2. Protect the “franchise”
Burrow was sacked five times in Game 1, and although only two of them were charged on the offensive line, the whole offense needs to better protect the quarterback whom CJ Uzomah simply calls “the franchise. “. The Bengals allowed 48 sacks last year, including 30 on Burrow in 10 games before he was injured.
“Sometimes the eyes were poor in position,” Taylor said. “Sometimes it was just a one-on-one clash. And there were a couple of instances where we just could have done a better job providing help, just with the way we structured everything in coaching, starting with me. So I think that was part of it. Again, this is something we can continue to improve. But I thought there were a lot of really good things about protecting our guys to give Joe a chance.
Center Trey Hopkins described seeing Burrow limp after his last sack on Sunday as “terrifying” and said it couldn’t happen again.
The Bears will bring a pass rush that includes outside linebacker Khalil Mack (9.0 sacks in 2020), defensive end Bilal Nichols (5.0 sacks), inside linebacker Roquan Smith (4.0 sacks) and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (3.5 sacks). Linebackers Robert Quinn (back) and Joel Iyiegbuniwe (shoulder) are questionable.
3. Stop the race
The focus last week was on stopping Dalvin Cook, and the defense beefed up to limit one of the best running backs of 2020 to 61 rushing yards. This week, Mount Healthy High School product David Montgomery is on the menu, following a 108-yard rushing performance in last week’s game opener.
“Montgomery is one of the best young full backs in this league, from here in our backyard that’s where he’s from,” Taylor said. “Damien Williams too, I’ve been on teams with Damien Williams. He’s a great receiver out of the backfield and can lead the football when asked. We have our work cut out for him, but he there are some good full backs who play this game. “
The defense of Cincinnati wants to “bring violence”, as the security Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell described it. The defense set the tone last week with its aggressiveness and Minnesota struggled to shake things up in the race game. The Bengals will be looking for more this Sunday.
The Bengals will miss safety Ricardo Allen, who is on the injured reserve, and cornerback Trae Waynes (hamstrings), and linebacker Markus Bailey (knee) and cornerback Darius Phillips (thigh) are questionable.
4. Different QBs, different looks
The Bears could be looking to get more snaps for rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who looks to be the team’s near future if Dalton doesn’t get things done quickly. Fields, the former Ohio State quarterback, came in for five snaps last week and had a 3-yard touchdown run, and the Bengals are also bracing for him.
Fields is more of an athletic type but can throw the ball as well.
Regardless of who plays the quarterback, the Bengals want to keep pushing the defensive line and the blitzes, which they did more last week. They recorded three sacks and 21 presses with defensive tackle BJ Hill registering two sacks and Larry Ogunjobi having two as well, before the second was canceled by a take from Eli Apple.
“It’s a big deal,” Bates said. “There weren’t a lot of times Kirk (Cousins) had an open pocket to throw the ball. He unbalanced the ball a lot, so credit to the D line. They do a (real) job with the physique, putting forward. “
The Bears will be without offensive lineman Larry Borom (ankle) and possibly Jason Peters (quad). Wide receivers Marquise Goodwin (quad), Darnell Mooney (back) and Nsimba Webster (hamstrings) are questionable.
5. Road warriors
For the Bengals to be a playoff or division contender, the team must learn to win on the road. They are 1-14-1 on the road under Taylor, including 1-6-1 last year.
Burrow didn’t play a road game in front of a large crowd due to COVID limitations last year before his injury, so this will be the first time he’s tried a silent cadence in the NFL.
“Just preparation and confidence in what you are trying to do helps you speed up the communication process because every second counts when you are in a noisy environment you are on a silent cadence you have to communicate at the line of scrimmage. Taylor said. “Every second counts. So with the quarterback being prepared and understanding the calls and being able to quickly identify the looks you want to access, that’s what helps great quarterbacks in this league. And we expect Joe to be able to do it.
Bengals at Bears, 1:00 p.m., Fox, 1530, 102.7, 104.7