Considering how bad they were before and since, it’s actually still pretty remarkable to consider the fact that the Cincinnati Bengals were one of the exciting young teams in the NFL for a five-year period at the start of the previous decade, even reaching the postseason in each of those five years, despite being one-and-done each and every time.
They have been bad enough recently that they were in position to draft Joe Burrow last year, the LSU quarterback who was the consensus top player in the draft, and they used the first-overall pick to put the hopes of their future on his shoulders.
And now the hope of his future is on his knee, which he severely injured in the second half of his rookie season a year ago, suffering both a torn MCL and ACL among other damage. Head coach Zac Taylor, heading into his third season, remains optimistic that the 2021 opener is a realistic target for his return, in part based on the work ethic he’s seen from his young slinger.
“He’s been around quite a bit. He does everything he can possibly do right now. He’s adamant about that”, Pro Football Talk shares from Jay Morrison of The Athletic. “The last I saw him was probably two weeks ago, and everything’s positive. He’s obviously very positive about it. Everything seems to be on pace. I’m very careful to make predictions, but everything has been positive so far”.
As a rookie, Burrow started 10 games, posting a 2-7-1 record. He completed 264 of 404 pass attempts for 2688 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per attempt, with 13 touchdowns to five interceptions. None of those numbers are remarkable, but you see the potential that he has when you actually watch him.
The Bengals are working to get more talent around him, which included drafting Tee Higgins at wide receiver at the top of the second round in the draft. They also have Tyler Boyd, but they could use more help at the wide receiver position, as well as at tight end, and even running back. Joe Mixon wasn’t healthy for much of the season.
And there is still work to be done on the offensive line, to say the least.Burrow was sacked 32 times, or on 7.3 percent of his dropbacks, which is…a lot. It was the 10th-highest in the league, in fact.