The Cincinnati Bengals stumbled to a 4-11-1 record in 2020 and ended up being the only team in the AFC North with a losing record. Rookie QB Joe Burrow did make this team more fun to watch last season, but he went down with a brutal knee injury that caused him to miss the Bengals final six games. Can Burrow stay healthy and get Cincy a little bit closer to a .500 record in 2021?
This will be the second season for 38-year old head coach Zac Taylor and Bengals fans are hoping that he’ll continue to lead this team in the right direction. 2021 should be another tough rebuilding season for the Bengals but they have some entertaining players to watch on offense.
Burrow looked sharp as an NFL rookie last season by throwing 13 touchdowns and only five interceptions. The former LSU Heisman Trophy winner also ran for three touchdowns. Hopefully, the offensive line will protect Burrow better in 2021 so that he can play an entire season.
Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine are a formidable running back duo for Cincy (Ourlads.com). Mixon started the first six games of 2020 and showed flashes of brilliance (428 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns) before a foot injury landed him on injured reserve the rest of the year. Perine, Mixon’s old Oklahoma teammate, also found the end zone three times last season.
The Bengals shocked a lot of folks by passing on All World offensive tackle Penei Sewell and taking wideout Ja’Marr Chase with their first-round pick. Chase and Burrow did some magical things while together at LSU but many scouts thought Cincy was in greater need of O-line help. Nevertheless, this Bengals receiver trio of Chase, Tyler Boyd, and Tee Higgins should put up some decent numbers in 2021.
The Bengals defense looked like swiss cheese against the run in 2020. They ranked 29th in the NFL with 148 rushing yards allowed per game. Coach Taylor did try to address this need by using four of the Bengals draft picks on defensive linemen. Joseph Ossai, a third-round pick out of Texas, has the best chance of starting right away.
Cincy fared a little better against the pass last season by ranking 19th in the league (241.2 passing yards allowed per game). The secondary could be a bit better in 2021 since they brought in veteran cornerback Eli Apple as a free agent during the offseason. Cincy hopes that Jessie Bates will develop into a top-notch safety.
2021 Special Teams
Austin Seibert made six out of nine field-goal attempts in 2020 but is not guaranteed to win the starting job at kicker. The Bengals drafted Evan McPherson from Florida in the fifth round and he could end up beating out Seibert for the job in the preseason. Kevin Huber returns for his 13th season as the Bengals punter (47.2 yards per punt average in 2020).
Speedster Darius Phillips will handle the bulk of the punt and kick return duties for Cincy in 2021. Phillips is a defensive back but he has plenty of experience on special teams.