AFC Notes: Joe Burrow, Mike Tomlin, Bengals, Browns, Steelers


The Bengals have been one of the most effective offenses at attacking down the field over the past few years, but not in 2023. Due to a combination of factors like QB Joe Burrow‘s calf injury and opposing defenses determined not to let WRs Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins beat them downfield, Cincinnati has been one of the least explosive offenses in the league. They connected on just two of eight deep passes against the Rams — their first two of the season. 

“With Aaron Donald up front, they play as soft as humanly possible to keep everything in front and make you go the length of the field,” Bengals HC Zac Taylor said via the Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. “Your defense has to play well then. We have to continue to be patient, and creative, and take advantage of the shots when we get them. We may see a lot of that this year with the receivers we have. You have to get used to it.”

Burrow also isn’t scrambling as much with his calf injury lingering, which is a way the Bengals have created big plays in the past. The only fix for that is time for his calf to heal. 

“When you’re able to extend plays, those kinds of explosive plays are created in that way,” Burrow said. “So, I think going forward, the healthier I get, the more we’ll be able to do that.”


  • Browns HC Kevin Stefanski expects RB Kareem Hunt (ribs/groin) to play in Week 4 after missing Wednesday’s practice, via Scott Petrak. 


Steelers HC Mike Tomlin backtracked on his statement that the team’s offense fell into a lull and needed to rediscover their “mojo” after the first two games of the season.

I’ll be really transparent with you,” Tomlin said, via ESPN. “I didn’t mean it last week when I said it. You guys asked me the question repeatedly in a bunch of different ways and I’ve given you the same answer and so sometimes I just give you a colorful answer with a word like ‘mojo’ just so you guys can run with it and we all can move on with our day. The guys that know me, they know there’s nothing mystical about performance from my mentality or our mentality. We work, we improve and then we go play. Sometimes man, that cycle doesn’t come quick enough. We got to stand in settings like this and absorb a lot of questions. They get repetitive and so I gave you a little something. I don’t subscribe to mojo or intangible-like things and all of that.”

Steelers QB Kenny Pickett believes the offense is headed in the right direction and feels like they’re going to get better.

I think we’re on track to getting it back,” Pickett said. “I mean it’s never a perfect game. There’s things that we wish we had back and there’s plays that’s always going to be the case, but I think we’re definitely getting towards that step that we need to have back.” Flawless? Hardly. But in Sunday’s performance, the Steelers put together elements of the offense that had been missing in the first two weeks and opened up the playbook more, potentially laying out a roadmap of success for the rest of the season.”

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