The Cincinnati Bengals offseason has caught plenty of ire from the national media. Most of the criticism has come with what has been perceived lack of focus on protection for Joe Burrow coming off a knee injury.
The biggest move that caught the most heat was spending their fifth overall selection on LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase rather than Oregon tackle Penei Sewell. One national writer is looking past seeing the forest for the trees and is instead seeing the potential future offense that could catch fire in Cincinnati.
NBC Sports’ Peter King compared the offensive potential to one of the best the NFL has ever seen in his recent power ranking.
“I look at the Cincinnati future and I see the old Chargers, quarterbacked by Dan Fouts with that explosive receiving corps, John Jefferson and Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow. Not saying Joe Burrow will be Fouts, and Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins have a ways to go to be in the Charger stratosphere. But Burrow is fearless like Fouts, and he’s beginning to look like the kind of leader Fouts was, and Burrow throws downfield with the same boldness and fearlessness.”
“Of course, the Chargers were a better total team than Cincinnati is, and Zac Taylor needs to start winning or he’ll be someone’s coordinator in a couple of years. It’s strange to rate a team 27th and be optimistic about its future. I‘m dubious about the Bengals’ long-term management, but that hasn’t changed since I covered the team in 1984. What I like about the state of the Bengals is there’s a quarterback who won’t stand for the same old Bengals, who will shake them out of the lethargy of five straight losing seasons. And if you’re not on board, get out of the way. What that means for this year, particularly with Burrow coming off major knee surgery, is probably 5-12 or something in that neighborhood. But mark my words: The Bengals will upset a couple of teams—Pittsburgh, Baltimore or maybe the Raiders—and look impressive doing it.”
King knows the Bengals about as well as a national writer can. He covered the team in the 1980’s, but this is a very different era. The potential is clearly there with Burrow, who clearly changed the team’s tone last season from the first time he stepped on the field. It was also clear that he paired well with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, but the offense needed a more consistent deep threat as the young quarterback didn’t pair well with A.J. Green.
This is a good expectation to set as well as temper in 2021. We still have to see if Zac Tayler is the guy, and how this team performs in 2021 will go a long way in telling us that. There is also the fact that outside of Boyd, these key offensive players are still relatively new to the NFL. There will be plenty of inconsistencies that come along with that.
Seeing Burrow compared to a Hall of Famer is always great to see. We have seen him compared to players like Tom Brady already, so adding Fouts to the list is cool. He and the Chargers were responsible for one of the more defining offenses of the early 80’s, and many would give them some credit in helping pave the way for modern day offenses.
In reality, the addition of Chase helps Burrow and this offense run something closer to what he did at LSU where he can more easily spread out defenses and attack mismatches vertically. That helps get the comparison to Fouts and an offense that was know for attacking defenses deep.
If Burrow, Taylor and the Bengals are able to even come close to that amount of success in 2021 then they will definitely surprise more than a handful of teams who may be expecting an easy win. We may be a year or two away from this offense really hitting its stride, but it is great to see a renown writer speak out in defense of Cincinnati’s offseason.