The Bengals have been making moves these past few offseason headed by drafting Joe Burrow in 2020. They’ve drastically changed their roster from the Marvin Lewis era.
However, despite these efforts, several NFL executives aren’t fans of what Cincinnati is doing, according to The Athletic. They had five executives rank the 16 AFC front offices against each other, and the Bengals only beat out the Texans and Jets.
“I just don’t know what their team is right now,” another voter said. “I don’t know what they’re good at or what they can be good at, outside of how Burrow played last season, and what they have in (Joe) Mixon. I don’t know what they are defensively. I guess the corners have been playing well in camp, but I don’t see a plan. I couldn’t tell you what they are.”
From the sounds of it, It seems like more of the issue is that these executives may not know exactly what Cincinnati’s vision is. Maybe it is that it is hard to follow a team whose biggest move over the past decade was drafting Burrow.
They do note that the corners were upgraded. However, just as important was Cincinnati’s efforts in bringing in competition along the offensive line that barely allowed any pressure during the preseason.
They also went out and drastically reshaped their defensive line the past two seasons with Trey Hendrickson, D.J. Reader, Larry Ogunjobi, Joseph Ossai (out for the season), Cam Sample and undrafted free agent Darius Hodge who may have had the best preseason of any rookie defender. This defensive line created a ton of pressure and turnovers this preseason, which is something they just didn’t do in 2020.
Nothing the Bengals have done the past couple of offseasons under Zac Taylor has been flashy, but ironically, the players they have brought in have spread a confidence and swagger we just haven’t seen with this team since Chad Johnson took the stage. Guys like Burrow, Mike Hilton, Sam Hubbard and Jessie Bates are all young guys that know how to command a locker room.
Many fans and football personalities also weren’t a fan of Cincinnati taking former LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase over the tackle Penei Sewell. Many viewed it as negligent to Burrow’s future. What the team did do was bring back offensive line coach Frank Pollack, which has already seemed to pay dividends developing three rookie offensive linemen who shined so much during the preseason that they all secured spots on the 53-man roster.
Then the drafting of Chase gave the Bengals a set of wide receivers that includes second-year-breakout-candidate Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, who are all bound to give NFL defenses issues once Chase gets his NFL legs under him.
The pieces may not be terribly obvious to the outside, and it doesn’t help that several veteran players left upset with the Bengals over the past couple of offseasons. However, these young guys could be gelling at just the right time for people to have to take notice.