At this point of the offseason, Bengals fans are more concerned with the latest manufactured Joe Burrow drama, mock drafts and who Cincinnati should target in free agency.
However, Sheil Kapadia of the Athletic included the Bengals’ in their bold predictions for the 2020 season. What did they predict? Cincinnati going from the worst team in the NFL to a playoff team:
Don’t stop reading — at least let me make the case! They draft Joe Burrow with the first pick. Given his excellent pocket feel, outstanding mental processing and uncanny accuracy, he steps in and looks better than most rookie QBs do. The Bengals bring back A.J. Green and already have Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon. They get 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams, who was injured last season, back on the offensive line and make other upgrades there in the draft. Plus, Zac Taylor figures some things out in his second season as head coach. The offense is set up for success. And remember, the Bengals weren’t quite as bad as their 2-14 record indicated. They went 0-8 in one-possession games. If they win half of those, they’re 6-10 and a respectable team. So, did I convince you? No? OK, let’s just move on.
Kapadia brings up some decent points to make a case for the Bengals in 2020. The most important is drafting Burrow. His rookie season may not be so smooth that he leads Cincinnati to the playoffs, but he should have an instant impact on offense.
The other assumption they make is the Bengals will bring back A.J. Green. This also seems safe considering the Bengals will at worst use the franchise tag on their best wide receiver. Best case is both come to an agreement that makes both sides happy, because Green would be a great target for a rookie quarterback. Not to mention the Bengals are just better with Green on the field.
The notion that the Bengals should expect some correction in one score games in one possession games is weird on its own. It is always strange when people bring up this stat on its own, and site it as a reason a team will be worse or better the next season.
What isn’t a surprise is that the teams with better quarterbacks usually fair better in one possession games, and have a quarterback like Burrow who has shown he can be pretty clutch should help improve that 0-8 number next season.
One thing that many people are glossing over for a potential turnaround in Cincinnati next season was the defense improving in the second half of the season. Players like Carlos Dunlap, Sam Hubbard, Carl Lawson and Nick Vigil had pretty outstanding finishes to the year. It is fair to think that adding a few players and allowing young players another year of development could result in that unit jumping from one of the worst in the league to average, which is a huge difference.
It is still way too early for these kinds of bold predictions. Cincinnati needs to make some moves and finalize some of these assumptions before we can really start thinking about all of this. The point, though, is there is an avenue for the Bengals to climb out of the basement in 2020 to at least be an average team. Their ceiling probably depends on how quickly Burrow can acclimate to the NFL, but if he starts out hot, it could be a pretty surprising season.