Why The Bengals Fans Can Be Excited

The tide is turning for Bengals fans

By: Andy Davies

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. 

This quote from Thomas A Edison best describes how fortune has favoured the Cincinnati Bengals in recent history. Their last playoff win was on January 6, 1991 against the Houston Oilers in the Wildcard Round, a thirty-year streak that remains the longest in the NFL.  

For many Bengals fans, it does not seem long ago that they reached two Super Bowls. Their most recent visit to the big game during the 1988 season saw their offense filled with players such as quarterback Boomer Esiason, fullback Ickey Woods, running back James Brooks and wide receiver Eddie Brown.  

Esiason threw for 28 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and 3,572 yards. Woods ran for 1,066 yards and 15 touchdowns. Brooks recorded 931 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns. Brown caught for 1,273 yards and 9 touchdowns. On defense, the 1988 season saw defensive end Jim Skow get 9.5 sacks, cornerback Eric Thomas have 7 interceptions and nose tackle Jim Krumrie record 152 total tackles.  

Since their loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 23, the Bengals have seen a continuous decline, with only 8 winning seasons across the following 32 seasons

False dawns appeared for the franchise, when they had five straight winning seasons between the years of 2011 and 2015. They lost all five playoff games and have failed to make the postseason ever since.  

However, there appears to be a new exciting era in franchise era. After the comeback 24-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, here is why there is room for genuine optimism in Cincinnati. 

A Tough Schedule  

Their next five games will allow the world to see the true Bengals team, with games against the Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns in this time period. Games against the Detroit Lions and New York Jets allow them to pick up two extra wins.  

At worst, they will be 5-3. They have the personnel to earn some surprise victories. Their final eight games see them once again play the Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders. Six of their remaining opponents currently have a 3-1 record. They face a hard task, especially considering it is normally the team who wins the division that has a hard schedule.  

On paper, this run of fixtures will likely see Cincinnati miss out on the playoffs. Despite this, the goal for this franchise is not the present, it is the future. They have a young and exciting roster that gives them hope for years to come, one that could see them break this postseason win duck. 

Exciting Weapons On Offense  

There is of course, quarterback and 2020 first overall pick Joe Burrow. He had an encouraging rookie year before his season was cut short in Week 10. He has started 2021 in the same vein, with some brilliant performances. He has so far thrown for 9 touchdowns, 988 yards and 4 interceptions. He showed tremendous composure when driving the Bengals down the field in the second half against Jacksonville as they scored 17 unanswered third quarter point, with 348 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in the Week Four win. 

He was reunited with former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase, who was taken fifth overall by Cincinnati in this year’s draft. The argument can be made that they should have taken an offensive tackle, considering Burrow was the ninth most sacked quarterback in 2020 despite playing five or six games less than most starting quarterbacks in the league. Nevertheless, head coach Zac Taylor and general manager Duke Tobin went with Chase and so far, it appears to be working out for them.  

Penei Sewell, who eventually ended up with the Lions seventh overall, was seen by many to be the player that the Bengals needed. He has so far been far from the player people expected, whilst Chase has been exactly as advertised. In his first four games, he has caught for 297 yards and four touchdowns from 25 targets and 17 receptions, giving him an average of 74.3 yards per game and 17.5 yards per reception. Burrow does not just have Chase to throw to. Tyler Boyd has recorded 259 yards so far. Tight end C.J.Uzomah had 95 yards and 2 touchdowns in the win over Jacksonville. This shows the plethora of offensive talent that surround Burrow in the passing game.  

The ground game is also an area that can excite fans. Running back Joe Mixon so far has 353 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns from 89 attempts. Depth may be an issue for the Bengals if Mixon was to go down with an injury, with Samaje Perine the next best rusher with a measly 28 yards from 9 carries and Burrow the third best rusher to date this campaign. Should Mixon stay health along with Chase and Boyd in particular, then the franchise is in a good place offensively. These are game changers on offense that can help the team produce big results. 

Improvement On Defense

Defense has seen a massive improvement under defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. They finished their 2020 campaign ranking 26th in total yards allowed (6,227) and yards allowed per game (389.2), 19th in passing yards allowed (3,859), 29th in rushing yards allowed (2,368) and 22nd in total points allowed (424).  

In the four games they have played so far in 2021, they rank 7th in total yards given up (1,292) and yards allowed per game (323), 13th in passing yards allowed (918), 9th in rushing yards allowed (374) and 8th in total points allowed (75).  

Defensive end Trey Hendrickson was one of the Bengals’ biggest offseason moves, signing a $60 million four-year deal after an impressive 2020 campaign. This acquisition was met with hesitancy, some believing he was playing his best because he was in a contract year. His 2020 season saw him record 13.5 sacks and 25 quarterback hits, both being more than his previous three years in the NFL. He has started 2021 in good form, with 2.5 sacks and 6 quarterback hits. This has him projected to finish the season with just over 10 sacks and 24 quarterback hits, reaching similar numbers to those of his previous campaign.  

Linebacker Logan Wilson is joint-sixth in the NFL for total tackles (4) and only the Dallas Cowboy’s Trevon Diggs (5) has more interceptions than the 3 recorded by Wilson. Offseason addition Larry Ogunjobi has recorded 4 tackles for loss, with the defensive tackle tied for eleventh across the league. 

The Bengals are giving their head coach the best chance to succeed with the start they have made, with Taylor seen as someone on the hotseat during the offseason. Taylor will be as keen as anyone to point out that it was never the aim to challenge for Super Bowls this year. They have shown enough encouragement that with a few more additions here and there along with the chance for their young talent to develop, they can once again be challenging for playoff spots and maybe more.

Why Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay are the perfect duo

Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay will take the league by storm

By: Andy Davies

The Los Angeles Rams have a new quarterback, in former Detroit Lions first overall pick Matthew Stafford.

Despite going all the way to the NFC Divisional Round last season, Rams head coach Sean McVay was not happy with the performances of Jared Goff. The Rams traded for Stafford earlier this year, with Goff going the other way.

Here is why he and McVay can be the perfect match for each other.

McVay’s Early Coaching Career

The Rams’ head coach never had the playing career that he would have wanted but he soon found his speciality when it came to coaching. McVay, who is currently 35 years old, started as an offensive assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008. He would spend one season in 2009 with the Florida Tuskers before heading back to the NFL with Washington, where he would spend seven seasons.

During these seven seasons, he would be an offensive assistant before becoming a tight ends coach and finally an offensive coordinator whilst in America’s capital.

His period as an offensive coordinator in Washington would result in him being named the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, who were a franchise a year removed from relocating after spending twenty years in St Louis.

His Time As An NFL Head Coach

McVay came into a franchise who had made the playoffs in just 4 of the previous 17 seasons.

He immediately changed things, with playoff appearances in all but one of his four seasons since being the head coach. This includes an appearance in Super Bowl 53, which ended in the disappointment of a 13-3 defeat to the New England Patriots in Atlanta. His infectious personality drew people in early and he is seen as one of the best young coaches in the NFL. He went viral when he was able to memorize previous coaching plays.

His head coaching record stands at 43-21 in the regular season and 3-3 in the postseason, with no losing seasons and only one campaign that hasn’t ended in double-digit wins.

Can Stafford be the final piece in the jigsaw for what is an almost complete roster?

Jared Goff’s Time In Los Angeles

Stafford is a clear upgrade on Goff, who hasn’t been a bad quarterback for the franchise. He just has not been the guy to take the team over the final hurdle.

During the 2016 draft, it was seen as a toss of the coin if the Rams would pick Goff or Carson Wentz. The Rams traded up for the first overall pick via the Tennessee Titans and Goff was selected. He reached a Super Bowl but lost whereas Wentz won a ring despite being injured for the entire postseason in what would have been an MVP award had he stayed healthy.

Both his first and last season saw disappointment but for entirely different reasons. Goff failed to win a single game as a rookie, finishing the 2016 season with a 0-7 record. He threw for 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. However, Goff had his more productive years in between these seasons.

2017 saw McVay improve Goff’s game and 2018 saw his best season as they reached the Super Bowl. 2019 saw a dip in form before his disappointing 2020 campaign.

Goff threw for 3,804 yards, 28 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in 2017. He recorded 4,688 passing yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2018 before throwing for 4,638 yards, 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 2019.

2020 saw Goff throw for 20 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and 3,952 yards.

Stafford’s Time In Detroit

Just like Goff, Stafford was also a number one overall pick. In 2009, the Detroit Lions drafted him out of Georgia after going 0-16 in 2008.

During his twelve seasons and 165 games for the Lions, he recorded 3,898 completions from 6,224 attempts (62.6%). He ended his time in Detroit with 45,109 passing yards, 282 touchdown passes and 144 interceptions.

Despite the lack of success Detroit had on the field, Stafford was a fighter and always gave 100% for the franchise. He will always be remembered for his heroic play against the Cleveland Browns during his rookie year where he was Mic’d Up.

After suffering a separated shoulder he was treated on the sidelines. He went back out onto the field and helped Detroit with throwing the winning touchdown.

Despite the 74-90-1 record in the regular season and going 0-3 in the postseason, Stafford has always been deemed a great player trapped in a bad team. He now has his chance to play in a good team, a roster that is seen as one of the contenders for a place in Super Bowl 56.

McVay and Stafford: A Perfect Match

Stafford is a big plus for McVay and the Rams and he has already received high praise from his new head coach.

“He’s even better than advertised. The ability to see the game, his ability to draw on his experiences and the feel that he has is special and unique. He has feel for people and an authentic way of connecting with his teammates and coaches. It is great being around him”.

It is clear what McVay thinks of Stafford, a stark contrast to the relationship between him and Goff. This is a relationship that came to blows in the defeat to San Francisco in the 2020 season.

“Our quarterback’s got to take better care of the football. Any time that you turn it over as many times as we did and he did, it just has to be better. He’s capable of it, but we have to be able to get it done.”

Goff made amends in the win over the Seattle Seahawks in the Wildcard Round but threw for just 174 yards and was sacked four times as they lost 32-18 to the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round at Lambeau Field.

Stafford will now get to play with those wide receiver options that Goff struggled to throw to. Robert Woods has two 1,000+ yard seasons and 6,521 career yards. Cooper Kupp has 3,570 career yards and 24 touchdowns throughout the four seasons he has spent in the NFL.

Marvin Jones recorded 36 touchdowns since his move from the Cincinnati Bengals to Detroit in 2016 and Kenny Golladay has 3,068 yards and 21 touchdowns since being drafted by the Lions in 2017. Stafford is still transitioning from two great receivers to two fellow top wideouts.

However, there is more depth at the Rams organization. Van Jefferson and DeSean Jackson are the third and fourth choice wideouts for the Rams whereas the Lions have rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown as their third choice receiver.

The Rams also, unlike the Lions, have a great defense which is arguably the best in the NFL on their day. Not only do the Rams have the best defensive player in the league in Aaron Donald, but they also have the best cornerback in the NFL in Jalen Ramsey.

Ramsey (below) backs up his words with his performances on the field and he will play alongside Darius Williams, who had a great 2020. This campaign saw Williams record four interceptions. Safeties Jordan Fuller and Taylor Rapp make up a young and promising secondary.

The Rams allowed the least total yards and total yards per game in the entire league during 2020 along with the least passing yards, the third least rushing yards, and the least points. Stafford will welcome this with open arms after a defense in Detroit that let him down most seasons.

During the twelve campaigns Stafford spent in Detroit, the Lions’ defense was twentieth or lower in seven of those seasons for total points allowed, only being in the top ten on three occasions.

This move seems to suit everyone involved from the Rams’ point of view. Perhaps Goff would disagree. McVay has a new toy to play with. Stafford meanwhile, finally gets the chance to play for a Super Bowl contender.

Expect the Lions, Eagles, and Texans to have the worst records in 2021

The worst NFL teams in 2021 will be…

By: Andy Davies

Plenty of uncertainty surrounds the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and Houston Texans going into the 2021 season. Their quarterback situations are far from clear and their overall rosters are mediocre at best.

The same goes for their head coaches, with all three going into their first seasons at the franchise. Neither of Dan Campbell, Nick Sirianni, or David Culley has been a full-time head coach in the NFL. Campbell is the only one to have some experience, with his spell as interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2015.

Here is why you should be expecting the Lions, Eagles, and Texans to have the three worst records in the league in 2021.

Saying Goodbye To A Franchise Legend In Detroit. Struggles For The Replacement

Matthew Stafford was the number one overall pick in 2009, with the entire city of Detroit hoping he would be the man to turn around the fortunes of the franchise. Despite three seasons of making the playoffs, the Lions and Stafford never won a single postseason game as the wait continues. The Lions remain the team with the second-longest period without a playoff win, their last taking place on January 5th, 1992.

Stafford had some great individual moments as a Lion, most notably his Mic’d up moment during his 2009 rookie season. In a week eleven game against the Cleveland Browns, he overcame injury to produce a moment of pure heroism. He played with a separated shoulder despite the efforts of the medical staff to keep him off the field, leading the Lions to a touchdown-winning drive.

Jim Caldwell guided the Lions to these playoff appearances but was not seen as good enough to take them to the next step. New England Patriots assistant head coach Matt Patricia was brought in but never took to life as head coach. The Lions had three consecutive losing seasons under the coaching of Patricia. They will hope that they have found their guy in Dan Campbell. His press conference was certainly not dull, with Campbell referring to “biting kneecaps”. As a former Lions player, he knows what it takes to play in the league. He also knows about the city of Detroit and his intentions are both positive and clear. If he is given time, he has the desire to bring the good times back to Detroit. However, he is inexperienced as a head coach and the roster is below average.

New quarterback Jared Goff has the potential to struggle. This is despite the drafting of offensive lineman Penei Sewell at seventh overall, a selection that had Campbell and new General Manager Brad Holmes very excited.

Despite his brilliant 2018 season that saw the Rams reach Super Bowl 53, Goff had a poor game and struggled in 2020 as he and head coach Sean McVay’s relationship deteriorated.

Goff struggled despite a plethora of offensive talent around him. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp form one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL. He is going to a franchise that let go of their two best wide receivers and failed to replace them.

The Lions have a schedule that features the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, and Cleveland Browns. There are also two games against their division rivals, the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and Chicago Bears. The Lions do not have it easy.

Prediction: 3-14

Trouble In Philadelphia; Reason For Hope?

The Eagles have seen three years of gradual decline after winning Super Bowl 52. The 2017 season saw the Eagles lift the Lombardi Trophy for the first time after two previous attempts.

Doug Pederson was the head coach to guide the Eagles to a Super Bowl but was fired after the conclusion of the 2020 season. His decision to bench rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts in order to lose and gain a higher draft pick appeared to be the final nail in the coffin.

Carson Wentz had an MVP caliber season before an injury derailed hopes of winning the award. Backup Nick Foles stepped in and guided the Eagles to the Super Bowl 52 win. He also stepped in a year later and guided the Eagles to a shock Wildcard Round win against the Chicago Bears, with thanks also going to a Cody Parkey missed field goal.

Both Foles and Wentz are no longer Eagles players. Out of the starters in that Super Bowl 52 win, only seven remain with the franchise. Their decision to draft Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson continues to be mocked by rival fans and nobody knows how new head coach Nick Sirianni will do in the role.

The schedule is mixed for Philadelphia. Whilst they face the New York Jets, Lions, and twice play the New York Giants, they also have to face the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.. This is as well as facing a rising Washington Football Team twice as well as playing the Dallas Cowboys both home and away.

Reports have surfaced in recent days of the Philadelphia Eagles being the favourites for Deshaun, with talks said to be “heating up”.

This could be a move that transforms the franchise. However, Deshaun Watson had his best statistical season yet the Texans only managed four wins all year. This proves that whilst it is very important to have a good quarterback, you need more around to be successful.

Unless the Eagles do something in what remains of the offseason, they will continue to be mediocre if their roster continues to be this poor. If they get offensive or defensive talent in the next one or two offseasons, then they are a team that will compete for years to come. Otherwise, the Eagles will fail to be a threat to both the NFC and NFC East.

This is why Deshaun should avoid the Eagles at this present time. He will be going into a situation no different to what he experienced in Houston.

Prediction: 4-13

What A Difference A Year Makes

Where do we start with the Houston Texans? The 2019 season saw them take a 24-0 lead against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. However, they allowed 41 unanswered points as they lost 51-31. What has unfolded since in the following nineteen months has been reminiscent of a Greek tragedy.

Head coach Bill O’Brien, who also was general manager, made the unusual decision to trade star wide receiver, Deandre Hopkins. In exchange, the Texans received a running back past his sell-by date in David Johnson, one second-rounder and one fourth-round pick. O’Brien only lasted four games in the 2020 season as they finished the campaign with just four wins.

Since the conclusion of the 2020 season, franchise legend J.J Watt has left and there continues to be an uncertain future surrounding quarterback Deshaun Watson. Houston’s quarterback requested a trade in January before allegations of sexual assault arose. These have lingered throughout the remainder of the offseason. It is unclear if Watson will play in the NFL at all in 2021 but even if he does, it is unlikely that he will be wearing a Texans jersey.

Houston has said they would listen to trade offers for Watson, with the franchise said to be wanting three first-round picks. They have also acquired Tyrod Taylor via Free Agency and used their first pick in the draft on Davis Mills in the third round. Even if the Eagles stick with Hurts, there will be plenty of other suitors.

Even with Watson, the Texans are light on the ground when it comes to elite talent. Linebacker Zach Cunningham and Laremy Tunsil are talents and despite adding Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram to the running back room, the roster is one of the league’s worst.

David Culley has developed somewhat of a worrying reputation after his time with the Eagles, Chiefs, and Baltimore Ravens. During his fourteen-season spell with the Eagles, his four seasons with the Chiefs, and two years with the Ravens, he had 0 wide receivers earn a PFF grade of 80 or above.

The Chiefs wideouts went an entire season without a touchdown under Culley. With a wide receiver room featuring Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins and Anthony Miller, this is not exactly a position of strength for the Texans. Culley is unlikely to see any of these receivers score high PFF grades.

Whilst the Texans might be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars twice and the Jets, they have a tough schedule. They will face the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks. Houston will also play the Los Angeles Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers as well as the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans twice.

They are unlikely to win many of these games. Fans should be expecting a difficult season.

Prediction: 2-15

Why the QB situation may prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West

The 49ers QB spot is a question mark

By: Andy Davies

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most successful franchises in NFL history. Only the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers (both 6) have more Super Bowl wins than the 49ers (5). The 49ers’ five Super Bowls all came between the years of 1981 and 1994. They have lost two since, in the 2012 and 2019 seasons. The quarterbacks that led the 49ers to the Lombardi Trophy were Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young. Three of those five wins saw Montana as the starter and Young as the backup.

Young is seen by many as the best backup quarterback in history, considering the gold jacket that he earned despite many years as the backup to Montana. He would win a Super Bowl as the starter after the franchise moved on from Montana. Ever since Young decided to hang up his cleats, the 49ers have struggled to find his replacement. Have they found the guy in Trey Lance?

Perhaps, but here is why the quarterback situation involving Lance and current starter Jimmy Garoppolo could prevent the 49ers from winning the NFC West during the 2021 season.

Struggles Since Young

Jeff Garcia was the man to come in for Young. During his five seasons in the Bay, he threw for 113 touchdowns and 56 interceptions as well as 16,408 passing yards. He had a 35-36 record as a starter for the 49ers in the regular season and a 1-2 record in the postseason, meaning he never hit the heights of his predecessor.

Alex Smith was the number one overall pick in 2005, shattering Aaron Rodgers’ dreams. However, he was a good quarterback, not a great quarterback. Colin Kaepernick replaced Smith and took the 49ers to the Super Bowl. They ended up losing to the Baltimore Ravens in a game often called the ‘Blackout Bowl’. Kaepernick failed to live up to the standards he set that season.

He would be kicked out of the league for taking the knee in a protest against police brutality in 2016. He has not played a snap in the NFL since. Jimmy Garoppolo was traded from the Patriots to the 49ers midway through the 2017 season. He gave hope to the organization after winning all five of the games he started in 2017. The fanbase had hope going into the 2018 season.

Many non-49ers fans had San Francisco down as their dark horse for the season. A season-ending injury to Garoppolo in Week 3 saw the starting role shared between Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. However, the 49ers finished 4-12 as they went into 2019 with the second overall pick. Nick Bosa was selected and transformed the defense of San Francisco and Jimmy G had the best season of his career. He threw for 3,978 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Despite these stats, Garoppolo saw his production limited in the NFC Championship game as the coaching staff decided to use more of their running game. This led to many questions leading to the Super Bowl. The 49ers threw away a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter as they would end up losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54.

Garoppolo was criticized heavily for an overthrown pass to Emmanuel Sanders that would have given San Francisco back the lead. His 2020 season saw a mixture of poor form and injury. During the 2021 offseason, the 49ers traded up with the Miami Dolphins to gain the number three overall pick. They took Lance with the pick, showcasing their intentions to eventually move off from Garoppolo. There is now talk of whether San Francisco and head coach Kyle Shanahan will start Lance in week one. The other scenarios discussed are either Lance coming in mid-season or sitting out the whole campaign as the backup to Garoppolo. The uncertainty will have a significant impact on the 49ers’ season.

The Strength of the NFC West

This is a problem that will affect all four teams in the best division in the NFL. There is a chance that all four teams can make the playoffs. Los Angeles has an exciting new quarterback in 2009 first overall pick Matthew Stafford. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals have quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray that they would never dream of trading away. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ starting quarterback is largely unpopular by fans, due to a mixture of the overthrown pass in the Super Bowl, his poor 2020 campaign and his injury record.

San Francisco has the least trusted quarterback in the division. With the position being one of the most crucial in all sports, it does not bode well for a team when there is uncertainty in the position. Garoppolo may be benched at some point during the season for Lance. However, the 49ers would be putting a rookie that will still be learning the system into the toughest division in the NFL.

Learning From Mahomes, Jackson, Tua and Burrow

If San Francisco are to help Lance succeed, they will need to take some lessons from recent draft classes. Patrick Mahomes, widely seen as the best quarterback in the league, spent all but one game of his 2017 rookie season as a backup to Alex Smith. The Chiefs then traded Smith the following offseason and Mahomes has never looked back. In his first three full seasons as a starter in the NFL, he has reached two Super Bowls, winning one. He has also been crowned MVP and Super Bowl MVP and reached three successive AFC Championship games. All three have been at home. On the flip side, 2020 first overall pick Joe Burrow started in week one of his rookie year. He wouldn’t last the season, only playing ten games before injury curtailed his first NFL campaign. He was impressive before his injury but there are no guarantees he will be the same player when he returns.

Lamar Jackson was a backup to Joe Flacco during his 2018 rookie year but won the starting role midseason. He has since gone on to win an MVP award and is the future of the franchise. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins brought Tua Tagovailoa in mid-season but he struggled in his rookie season. He is seen to already be on the hot seat, with many feeling the Dolphins rushed him in. These examples all show there are reasons for the 49ers to be hasty when it comes to choosing when to bring Lance into the starting role.

Lance Or Garoppolo In 2021?

The 49ers will have to decide soon who their starter will be in 2021. Considering Lance has only played one full season (2019), he is likely to start the season as the backup. He only threw for a combined total of 31 passing attempts, two touchdowns and 1 interception across the 2018 and 2020 seasons, albeit the latter campaign being disrupted by the pandemic. He is likely to be a work in progress but his 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in 2019 mean that he is one for the future.

Garoppolo will likely start in week one but it was clear from the NFC Championship game that Shanahan doesn’t completely trust him.

Jimmy G is a capable quarterback but his health is a concern. Expect Garoppolo to remain as the starter provided the 49ers are winning games but for Lance to come in should Garoppolo either be injured or start the season poorly.

Should this happen, this will be the end of Garoppolo’s time in San Francisco. Depending on timing, he will then be traded either before the deadline or in the 2022 offseason.

Can The 49ers Returning Players Avoid A Repeat Of 2020?

This is key if the 49ers are to challenge for both the NFC West and the NFC. After earning the number one seed and reaching Super Bowl 54 during the 2019 campaign, San Francisco finished 6-10 in 2020 and bottom of the division. A ‘Super Bowl Hangover’ played its part but the main cause of such a decline was down to a colossal amount of injuries the team suffered. Along with the aforementioned Garoppolo, the 49ers also saw Bosa, Dee Ford, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel and Solomon Thomas miss large chunks of the 2020 season due to injury.

San Francisco had 33 players reported questionable and there were 186 occasions when the 49ers reported a player on injured reserve. They had the second-most injuries of any team in the NFL over the past twenty years. Should all these players come back, then this 49ers roster will be one of the best in the league. This will make life much easier for whoever the San Francisco starting quarterback is.

However, from the strength of the division to the uncertainty at quarterback, San Francisco will find it tough to win the NFC West.

Why the Bengals could soon have the Top WR Duo in the NFL

The Bengals WR duo has a freakish ceiling

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

When thinking about the best WR duo in the NFL, a few combinations come to mind such as AJ Brown and Julio Jones of the Tennessee Titans, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin of the Tampa Bay Bucs, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks, and a few others as well. One team that doesn’t come up right away, at least not yet, is the Cincinnati Bengals. That could change in the very near future because the Bengals have an extremely talented, and very young, pair of WRs in second year player Tee Higgins and rookie Ja’Marr Chase. When paired with the fact that they have a young and promising quarterback in Joe Burrow throwing them the ball, the future is extremely bright for the Bengals offense. They could soon have the very best WR duo in the NFL if things go according to plan for them.

Tee Higgins

After being selected in the second round out of Clemson in the 2020 NFL Draft, the 6’4 and 215 pound Tee Higgins put together a very impressive rookie campaign. He played in all 16 games while registering 67 receptions on 108 targets for 908 yards and 6 touchdowns. He leads the entire Bengals team in total yards, touchdowns, yards per reception with 13.6, and receiving yards per game with 56.8. He was also second on the team in both receptions and targets, trailing only Tyler Boyd. He was clearly a huge part of their offense and one of the best players on the team. The break out rookie should continue to improve through the offseason, while also continuing to develop chemistry with Joe Burrow, and has the potential to be a top tier WR in the NFL this coming season and beyond, all things considered. It will be very intriguing to see what how good of a player he can really turn into if he does in fact take that next step.

Ja’Marr Chase

At 6’1 and 201 pounds with lightning speed and excellent leaping ability, the rookie WR out of LSU has all of the tools to be an elite playmaker at the NFL level. That is one of the main reasons why the Bengals selected Chase with their 5th overall pick in the NFL Draft this year. The other main reason is the connection between him and quarterback Joe Burrow, who the Bengals selected first overall in the previous draft. Specifically, in 2019 when they played together at LSU, Chase and Burrow put together one of the best WR and QB seasons of all time, respectively. In 14 starts that year, Chase recorded 84 receptions for 1780 yards and 20 touchdowns on his way to winning the Biletnikoff Award. He capped off that amazing season with a national championship by contributing 9 receptions for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

Chase opted to sit out of the 2020 season but clearly did enough in 2019 to earn himself a high selection in the draft. The added bonus of being able to play with the same quarterback that he did in college is what puts this connection over the top. Chemistry is something that takes a long time to develop, so it’s a huge luxury that the Bengals already have that in this QB and WR duo. The potential is sky high when it comes to Chase and his projections in the NFL, and Burrow further amplifies that. If Chase can live up to the hype and make an immediate impact as he’s expected to, then pairing him with an already productive Higgins makes them an extremely exciting WR duo to keep an eye on. If they can grow together over the next year or so, they will be one of the best in the NFL for many years to come. They are a real threat to take over the top spot, especially if Burrow blossoms to his true potential also.

3 reasons why the Bengals have a “chance” to win the AFC North

Can the Bengals win the AFC North?

By: Jake Rajala

The young Cincinnati Bengals team led by now second-year quarterback Joe Burrow finished last in the AFC North in 2020. As training camp kicks off for Cincy, there’s a lot of reason for new optimism heading into the 2021 season. 

The Bengals have upgraded the offensive weapons for Burrow, reeled in big free agent names on defense, and retained excellent Bengals. With a new-look team and attitude, the Zac Taylor mentored squad has their sights set on accomplishing great feats in 2021. Kay Adams, who leads the Good Morning Football crew, boldly predicts that Burrow will even lead the Bengals to a playoff berth. 

I believe that a playoff trip is very possible and the Bengals will be serious competitors in each of their 17 game slate. Yet, I want to take the bar a step further. It appears to be the potential playoff team should be in the conversation for a division title. It will be a serious hurdle for the 4-11-1 Bengals squad from a season ago to transcend into divisions, but it’s a real possibility

Here is why the Bengals stand a chance to win the AFC North in 2021.

  • Much improved pass rush

The Bengals passed the ball the second-most in the league with Joe Burrow under the helm. If Burrow’s offense is going to try and blow defenses out of the building, they need to be able to prevent offenses from torching their own defense. It doesn’t matter if the Bengals can put up high-scoring efforts if they can’t stop any opposing signal-caller. The Bengals were dreadful in 2020 at chasing QBs, as they ranked dead last in sacking the QB.

In 2021, there’s a lot of confidence in the Bengals front seven to have a turnaround and harass opposing QBs at will. The biggest difference will come from newly acquired pass rusher Trey Hendrickson. Hendrickson had more sacks than Aaron Donald, despite missing one game and playing in a rotation with Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport. The Bengals may have lost Carl Lawson, but they will have Sam Hubbard to lean in as a replacement. Hubbard notched 8.5 sacks in 2019. 

  • Ravens and Steelers QB situation

The Ravens and Steelers have undoubtedly stacked teams. Nonetheless, there are shaky factors with the Ravens QB and Steelers QB. These negative sides of the two divisional QB profiles could arise in 2021. 

The Steelers and Ravens carry the hardest course of schedule in the NFL. Lamar may be very electric, but he’s struggled mightily when tasked with facing quality teams on the big stage. He lost most of his CFB championship games, he’s been mostly porous on MNF showdowns, and he carries a 1-3 playoff record. Unfortunately, Lamar will be facing more talented teams in 2021 than he has in his career. 

Big Ben has often been a clutch player in big moments and he’s a sincere season veteran. However, the Steelers QB is clearly on the downhill of his career. The QB recorded a career-low Y/A in 2020 (6.3), which was a yard lower than his previous career-low (7.3). The Steelers QB is clearly on his last legs and he may see a sharper decline in what appears to be his last season in the NFL. I believe if the worst-case scenario at QB shows up for Pittsburgh, they could realistically squeeze out 7-9 wins, while the Ravens could get only 8-10 with a down year from Lamar. 

Truthfully, the Browns are AFC North favorites (no surprise) and real Super Bowl contenders. The Bengals will have to beat the Browns at least once, but it would be a tight finish for the prize if everything goes exceptionally well for the Bengals. The Bengals would need to reach their ceiling of 11 wins while beating the Browns at least once. Outside of beating the Browns head to head, a below-average version of OBJ and Clowney will have to surface for CLE throughout most of their season, while the pass defense needs to struggle if the Bengals want to edge out the Browns for AFC North glory.

Why the Bengals should consider signing Mitchell Schwartz

By: Will Baptist

It is no secret in Cincinnati that protecting franchise QB Joe Burrow is the key to success for the Bengals. After suffering a devastating knee injury that ended his season last year in week 11 against the Washington Football Team, he is on track to begin the year fully healthy.

There are still numerous talented offensive linemen on the free agent market that could provide a much needed boost to the Bengals line. The Bengals had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season, and they must continue to improve this group, to keep Burrow upright.

The player that stands out above all is OT Mitchell Schwartz, who could provide leadership and solidify the RT position for the Bengals. Schwartz has been a staple of the Chiefs offensive line for the last five seasons, and after battling injuries throughout 2020, he is a free agent, and the Bengals should aggressively pursue him.

Schwartz is 31 years old, and played 357 snaps last season, and only recorded one penalty and allowed two sacks. He recorded a PFF grade of 74.7 last season, while being Second-Team All-Pro in 2019. The Bengals desperately need consistency and leadership on their offensive line, and Schwartz is the perfect match, and would not be overly expensive to bring in on a one-year deal.

Schwartz is a former Super Bowl champion, and still has plenty left in the tank. That type of playoff experience could prove to be just what the Bengals need as they are trying to take the next step as an organization.

Bengals Additions to the OL

The Bengals lone outside signing on the offensive line during free agency was Riley Reiff, who has the ability to slide into guard, while Schwartz could make an immediate impact at RT. Reiff is 32, and along with second round pick, OG Jackson Carman, will be the only additions to the Bengals offensive line.

The Bengals still have over $20 million in cap space, and they have not done enough in the offseason to drastically improve the offensive line to ensure Burrow stays healthy.

After missing on multiple top tier free agent offensive lineman, and selecting WR Ja’Marr Chase over OT Penei Sewell, the Bengals offensive line remains a concern. They did improve the line by bringing back OL coach, Frank Pollack, who is a massive upgrade over his predecessor, Jim Turner.

Pollack was the OL coach in Cincinnati in 2018, when RB Joe Mixon had the best seasons of his career. The players and coaching staff are elated to have Pollack back in the building, and hopefully he can contribute to improving this group.

The Bengals have the talent to be a much improved group in 2021, led by LT Jonah Williams. Williams had his season cut short due to injury last year, but the former first round selection showed he has the potential to be an elite LT for years to come if he can remain healthy.

They will also be relying on C Trey Hopkins to make a full recovery after tearing his ACL in week 17 last year. It is concerning that the Bengals best offensive linemen and quarterback are coming off serious injuries, and they have to rely on them to bounce back next season.

Adding more offensive lineman, regardless of the cost, has to be the priority for this franchise. They cannot be complacent with just bringing in Reiff, and drafting Carman, they have to continuously look to improve the OL, to keep Burrow satisfied. The Bengals bringing in Schwartz would show they are committed to winning and keeping Burrow healthy, and could prove to be a steal if Schwartz remains healthy.

Why the Bengals will have the highest passing offense in 2021

Bengals passing offense can be the top in the NFL

By: Reese Nasser

With the Cincinnati Bengals choosing to take Ja’Marr Chase with the 5th overall pick in the draft, they are clearly making a commitment to both Joe Burrow and their offense as a whole. The willingness to pass on a talent like Penei Sewell and go with Burrow’s college teammate proves that they will do whatever to make their QB1 happy. You have to assume that Burrow had some sort of input on the decision. The reconnecting of two of the greatest college football players ever should put the rest of the NFL on notice. With an offense consisting of Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, and Tee Higgins, the addition of Ja’Marr Chase could make this a top-5 unit in the NFL and maybe the best passing offense the NFL has seen in years. Let’s take a look at why this could happen.

The 2020 Passing Offense 

Before looking ahead to next season,taking a look at the 2020 season could provide some needed insight. When looking at the Bengals passing offense in 2020, there was a high usage Play Action. Burrow had 78 play actions attempts which resulted in over 500 yards. Brandon Allen, who replaced Burrow after his season-ending injury, also excelled in play action. Allen had 35 attempts and 236 yards in just 5 games. With receivers like Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, who excel after getting the ball in their hands, the usage of play action makes sense. Boyd finished the year with 350 yards after the catch and Higgins finished with 310. While the offense was riddled with injuries there is a lot of promise and potential. 

Joe Burrow’s Production Pre-Injury

Prior to Quarterback Joe Burrow tearing his ACL, the Bengals threw the ball more than nearly any team in the NFL. During a week two loss against the Cleveland Browns, Burrow threw the ball 61 times, the second most ever by a rookie. The willingness to let Burrow sit in the pocket and throw the ball is a sign that this offense can be explosive. Through ten games last season, Burrow also had 404 pass attempts on the season, which put him at nearly 41 attempts per game, one of the highest in the NFL. With a coach like Zac Taylor who is very pass orientated, it is clear that the Bengals are committed to the passing game. This, plus Joe Burrow reunited with his favorite weapon Ja’Marr Chase, the passing production may be even higher. In 2012, Matthew Stafford had the most ever attempts with 727. Don’t be shocked if Burrow at least comes close to this. As long as he is fully healed from his ACL, the Bengals will be expecting big things from their QB1. 

Offensive Line Improvement 

With the signing of veteran tackle Riley Reiff and the selection of guard Jackson Carman in the second round of this year’s draft, the Bengals offensive line already looks much different than last years. All of this, plus the return of Jonah Williams should excite both Bengals fans and Joe Burrow. The improved protection from the offensive line could unlock this offense. 

The Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase Connection

The final key to unlocking this offense might just be Ja’Marr Chase. Burrow and Chase revolutionized college football in 2019 when they led LSU to a national championship. Burrow finished with 60 passing touchdowns and 5668 yards through the air. Chase caught 20 of those touchdowns and also had 1780 receiving yards. This is arguably the greatest quarterback-wide receiver duo that college football has ever seen. So why would it not translate to the NFL? It has been well documented that the Bengals biggest issue last season was pushing the ball down the field. This is something that Burrow and Chase excelled in at LSU. According to PFF, Burrow had a 61.5 passing grade on throws more than 20 yards down the field. While targeting Chase at LSU, he had a grade of 98.2. They also combined for 16 touchdowns of more than 20 yards. 

Even with choosing to opt-out of the 2020 college season, Chase still led the NCAA in touchdowns of more than 20 yards since the 2019. The instant threat that this duo brings to the team could be league altering. The addition of former LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss could also lead to some strong LSU flashbacks. 

A New Offense

Burrow, Chase, Boyd, Higgins, and Joe Mixon, protected by a revitalized offensive line with an offensive minded coach in Zac Taylor. This offense has all of the pieces. With a full off-season to perfect this squad, the Bengals could be absolutely electric this season. This passing game has all of the potential, and should be the best in the NFL this season. 

Dream Bengals Running Back Options In the NFL Draft

By: Noah Nichols

In the 2021 NFL Draft, the running back class is not so deep. In fact, there are really only three running backs that can be considered an every-down running back. After that…well, your best guess is as good as mine.

This is not to say that there are not any good running back options available beyond the first round. There are. But most of the options either won’t be there or have questions surrounding them. However, the Cincinnati Bengals pick at 38 and that means they will have a good shot at some of the best running backs in this draft class. So, who can the Bengals hope to see sitting at 38? And how realistic is it for those running backs to be there?

First, it’s important to remember that the Bengals already have a starter in the backfield in Joe Mixon. However, last year brought some real concerns to the table because Mixon could not stay on the field and only played six games. The Bengals will want someone more reliable than that to help Joe Burrow. But, there is still a chance that the Bengals do not take a running back, instead of hoping that Mixon will remain healthy for (most of) the season.

The Top Three

Najee Harris

Most draft analysts regard Harris as the best running back in this class. At 23 years old he is a mature running back but probably won’t play beyond his first contract. Quick, explosive, and a deadly weapon in the passing game, the Bengals would love to add him to their rushing attack. However, there is little chance that he is still sitting there at pick 38. The reports are that the rival Pittsburgh Steelers are big on Harris and will probably pick him at 24 if he is there. The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets also present threats and both could take a running back, whether in the first round at 18 and 23. respectively, or at 33 and 34. I don’t think there is any chance that Harris escapes round one, but there is a chance that he does. The two ways that happen is if other players fall that teams can’t pass up, or teams don’t draft him because they believe running backs should not be taken in the first round. Either way, Bengals fans hopes for Harris are slim.

Javonte Williams

Williams probably has the best chance to be available for the Bengals at 38. If you are a Bengals fan and have not seen his highlights, go watch them. He is my favorite running back in this class. Essentially a smaller, faster, version of Harris, Williams is only 21 years old so he has lots of tread loft on his tires. He also shared the backfield at UNC with Michael Carter, and had 366 career carries. For reference, Harris had 560 in the past two years. Williams is also a fantastic pass-blocking running back, which is something the Bengals want to ensure Joe Burrow stays healthy. Williams has the best shot out of the top three running backs to land with the Bengals at 38, but there is no chance he falls out of the second round.

Travis Etienne

The fastest and the most productive out of the top three running backs, Etienne is not for some people. He doesn’t have the build of a between-the-tackles runner, weighing in at 210 pounds. But after he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at this pro day, he proved that what he lacks in build, he makes up for in speed. He can take it to the house from anywhere on the field. There are concerns about his ability to be an every-down back, but if the Bengals are looking for the next Alvin Kamara, Etienne is their best shot. There are rumor’s that the Buffalo Bills are looking to trade up for Etienne. If this is true, then Etienne has no chance of falling to the Bengals pick at 38. I would put his chances of being available when the Bengals pick at about 50%.

Other Round Two Options

Kenneth Gainwell

A small, but adept, receiving back out of Memphis, Gainwell offers a lot as a complementary back. A converted wide receiver, Gainwell is a natural receiver and runs routes like a wide receiver. His only problem is that he is too small to be a lead back, at 5″11, 194 pounds. He also is not great at pass protection. But the Bengals did just cut Giovanni Bernard and could be looking to add a younger, more explosive, receiving back. Gainwell will be there at pick 38 and has a good chance of being available when the Bengals pick in the third round. If the Bengals were to add a running back, Gainwell and the next running back on this list would be my best bet.

Michael Carter

Carter is very much like Gainwell. Small, (5″9, 200 pounds), and explosive. Carter is not that much different from Gainwell, except for the height and the weight difference. Carter has shown a good ability to bounce off tackles and has the vision to pair with it. He is also an excellent receiver. Honestly, if the Bengals are looking to add a receiving back, they should just select Carter or Gainwell in the third round. If only one is available, take him. If both are, whoever’s tape they prefer. I think that Gainwell has shown a little more potential as a receiver, but Carter offers more as a between-the-tackles runner because of his build and weight.

Dream Option at 38: Najee Harris.

Most Realistic option at 38: Javonte Williams

Best option at 69: Kenneth Gainwell or Michael Carter. Notice that I didn’t say dream option? Because there is no way that any of the top three fall that far, and these two have a very realistic chance of being available.

My prediction:

And with the 69th pick in the 2021 NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select…Michael Carter, Running Back, North Carolina. Carter has a great chance of being available in the third round for the Bengals. He takes Bernard’s place as the receiving back, offers a little something running downhill, and if necessary, can take on 3-down duties if Joe Mixon is hurt. If the Bengals want complete insurance from a Mixon injury then they should take Williams at 38. However, I think they will be better off taking an Offensive Tackle to help Burrow, then adding a back, rather than the other way around.

Why Joe Burrow Will be the next Great QB and nobody is talking about it

Bengals QB Joe Burrow is healthy and seeking vengeance

By: Chris Thomas

What a difference a year makes for Joe Burrow. At this time last year, Joe Burrow was not only one of the most popular names in NFL headlines but in all of sports. Coming off of winning the Heisman and leading one of the greatest college football teams in NFL history to a National Championship, Burrow was projected to go first overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. Now a year later the former first overall pick isn’t even be speculated upon. It seems like Burrow fell off the face of the sports world once he tore his ACL in Week 11.

In previous years, players who have gone first overall and had great seasons have been speculated upon by the media on how they could take strides forward the following season. It is discussed whether they could reach their potential that they showed during their rookie season and that the team that drafted them saw on tape before they selected them. Burrow has not received that type of attention and may blow people away during his sophomore season.

Here is why Joe Burrow could become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL as soon as next season.

Recap of Joe Burrow’s rookie season

Before the injury Burrow was neck-and-neck with 2020 sixth-overall pick Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert for offensive rookie of the year. At the time Burrow had the edge as well. Not only because he had started every single game for the Bengals up to that point, but because he was doing more with less around him.

Burrow was only limited to ten games last season. But during those ten games, Burrow threw for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. He also completed 65.3% of his passes and had an 89.9 QBR. Pro Football Focus gave Burrow a 75.1 grade for the 2020-21 season.

If Burrow’s stats are stretched out over the course of a 16 game season he would have thrown for 4,301 yards, 21 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Those numbers likely would not have been enough to dethrone Justin Herbert for rookie of the year. But that is still an outstanding season for a rookie quarterback. And not to mention that Burrow was getting HOT before his injury.

To put it into perspective Burrow would have finished 7th in passing yards, 19th in passing touchdowns, and have had 20 other quarterbacks throw more interceptions than him. He would have thrown more passing yards than MVP Aaron Rodgers, more passing touchdowns than Jared Goff, and fewer interceptions than Russell Wilson and Tom Brady.

It is also important to remember that Burrow did this without the best pieces around him. For a good amount of his rookie season, Burrow was without his starting running back Joe Mixon who was limited to only six games last year.

He also had one of the worst offensive lines in football last season. PFF graded the Bengals offensive line as the third-worst offensive line in football last year. They gave up 32 sacks when Burrow was under center making him the second-most sacked quarterback in the league last season. He was also hit 42 times which was tied for the fifth-most in the league.

Reasons why Joe Burrow will make a massive leap in 2021-22

  1. The Cincinnati Bengals will give Joe Burrow a better supporting cast

Already this offseason the Bengals have made some improvements to their overall roster that should benefit Joe Burrow. They have added multiple new starters along their defense to improve that unit. A better defense could help Burrow and the offense control the pace of the game. Offensively the Bengals have added right tackle Riley Reiff to their offensive line. Last season Reiff was one of the best offensive lineman on Minnesota’s roster. Now he transitions to right tackle to give Cincinnati to very solid starting tackles to help protect Joe Burrow.

The Bengals are also projected to add to their offensive early and often during the NFL Draft. The three players Cincinnati is projected to take with their fifth overall pick are Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell, Flordia tight end Kyle Pitts, or Burrow’s former teammate at LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. All three are considered elite prospects at their position not just in draft class, but overall. Any of those three would help Burrow and the Bengals passing offense miles better next year than is was in 2020-21.

2. Joe Burrow’s traits coming out of LSU should improve over time

There was a lot that made Joe Burrow such an attractive prospect coming out of last year’s draft class. Burrow was undoubtedly the first overall pick in a draft class that was very top heavy with two other premier quarterback prospects in Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert. During his final season in LSU Burrow not only showed that he is not only capable of commanding an explosive NFL style offense, but that he is an extremely athletic quarterback that does not have to depend on his athleticism on every single play because he is more than capable of making plays from inside the pocket. But his athleticism makes him extremely dangerous because he can move the pocket and scramble on any given play.

On top of that as a person Burrow is an outstanding player to have in a locker room. When Burrow was leading LSU to the peak of their run to the College Football National Championship he showed an outstanding confidence and swagger on and off the field that coaches and executives want in a quarterback. But at the same time he managed to maintain that energy and not look arrogant.

He also showed outstanding leadership ability in college that translated to the NFL. Burrow was the leader of that LSU football team despite only being their two years after transferring from Ohio State. He was not only a leader of his football team, but was the face of college football (despite Trevor Lawerence still being at Clemson). Unlike many who have been in that position prior to Burrow, he handled the role with class and was shined when the spotlight was bright on him on and off the field. That translated to the NFL when Burrow was named a captain during his rookie season with the Bengals.

As long as he is healthy after the ACL injury, Burrow will have every opportunity to display his athleticism and the skillset that got him drafted first overall. He may be hesitant to tuck the ball and run as often, but is not the type of person to eliminate it from his game after a major injury. Now that he has had a taste of what the NFL game is like, he will be more comfortable overall and likely have more control of the offense. Once he starts having more success in the NFL his confidence will grow and so will his swagger. If he reaches the form he was at when he was at his best at LSU there is not much that could be done to stop him. Soon after that we could see Joe Burrow smoking a cigar with AFC North Championship gear,

3. He was able to keep him turnovers down his rookie year and his overall production should improve

One of the most impressive things from Joe Burrow’s rookie year that people should take away was the lack of turnovers despite it being his first season in the league. Almost all rookie quarterbacks struggle with accuracy and turnovers at the next level. Some of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the league struggled with turnovers during their first seasons in the league. For example, Andrew Luck had 18 interceptions during his rookie season, Josh Allen had 12 interceptions during his rookie season, and Kyler Murray also had 12 interceptions during his rookie season. Burrow would have projected to have only eight interceptions during his rookie season. If that number stays down, he will be able to put the Bengals in better positions to win.

Once the Bengals surround Burrow with more pieces, give him control over the offense, and get him more comfortable overall his touchdown production should improve. The Bengals have a couple of young weapons on offense for Burrow to take advantage of as well. Tyler Boyd is capable of being a number one receiver for the offense, but 2020 second-round pick Tee Higgins could take over A.J. Green’s role in the offense and emerge as Joe Burrows top target. Plus if Joe Mixon could stay healthy he could be an outstanding asset for Burrow in the passing game.

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