Bengals look ahead: ‘We know what we put on film ... isn’t us’

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

CINCINNATI — Joe Burrow came to work Wednesday sporting a new look, doing away with the longer hairstyle the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback had grown out during the offseason.

Asked how he knew it was time for a haircut, he laughed: “When you have a game like that on Sunday.”

Burrow later said he was only half-joking.

He threw for just 82 yards and no touchdowns in an opening loss at Cleveland, and perhaps the longer hair was bad juju. When Burrow originally grew out his hair to the point of needing a headband to keep it out of his eyes, he said he just needed to switch things up, but his career-low passing performance was a sign maybe things were better unchanged.

The Bengals are looking to bounce back Sunday at home against Baltimore, seeking to avoid an 0-2 start against AFC North opponents.

“We know what we put on film on Sunday isn’t us,” Burrow said. “We’ve proven that in the past. So, we’ve got to go out and prove it again. And each season is new. We’re not relying on anything we’ve done in the past. ... We didn’t play very well, and we didn’t prove that we were that explosive team. So, we’ve got to go out and prove it this week.”

Burrow said his calf was “obviously a little sore” after Sunday’s game, but otherwise it felt good. He also clarified he had not injured his hand or thumb, after fans speculated on social media that he might have, based on how he was rubbing his hand on his leg throughout the game.

The opener didn’t go well at all for the offense for a lot of reasons. Burrow’s mobility wasn’t where it has been in the past, which likely had something to do with some lingering effects of the calf injury he sustained July 27, and limitations he was under in rainy conditions.

A heavy rain is easier to throw in than the mist that just kind of sat on the football, as Burrow described it, so that played a factor in why his passes didn’t seem to come out of his hand properly. And the missed time during training camp impacted the cohesiveness and communication for the offense. All that combined with facing a good Cleveland defense made for a challenging day.

“In a game like that you take as much as you can from it,” Burrow said of what he saw from the tape of the loss in rainy conditions at Cleveland. “Obviously, the conditions weren’t great. That’s the main takeaway is you learn how to adapt to those conditions. You have a game like that, and you reflect on what you could have done better and handling the conditions is the main thing.”

Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said as bad as the game went Sunday, Burrow is still the “same as he is after a good one” and that’s why he’s been so good at bouncing back from tough moments.

Burrow said he would hope that would be the case because good players are defined by their ability to respond to adversity. Everybody has bad days, he noted.

“You definitely don’t feel the same after a loss as you do after a win,” Burrow said with a laugh. “I think that’s what mental toughness is — being able to maintain a steady emotional state when things maybe aren’t going great.”

Baltimore won’t be much easier, as an opponent the Bengals played three close games against last year. Burrow passed for more than 200 yards in all three while the Bengals went 2-1, including a 24-17 victory in a AFC Wild Card playoff game.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor said every possession is key against Baltimore, and Burrow is well aware of the need to make the most of every opportunity.

“They run the ball really well on offense, so it limits your possessions, and then their defense is tough, physical,” Burrow said. “They are very sound in their scheme. They do a great job of sending blitzes at you that you don’t see on tape before. They have a lot of great week-to-week gameplan stuff, so you have to be able to adapt well to it. They’ve got good players, good coach, good scheme. It’s going to be a challenge.”

Burrow said the key to getting back up to the speed where he would like to be is just to “learn from every rep” and not waste any time in practice. He’s balancing the need to prepare his body from a health standpoint and the need to get as many reps in practices as possible.

The communication issues weren’t overly concerning for Burrow. He’s played with the same receivers the past two or three years, and the offensive line has just one new starter getting acclimated.

“You just go over those reps,” Burrow said. “Those things happen early in the year for all teams. You try to limit them as much as you can, but they happen every year, especially when your quarterback doesn’t play in training camp. You just got to work those things out in practice. We had a really good day today.”


Ravens at Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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