The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams gave us one of the more entertaining Super Bowls in recent memory. While the latter relied on short-term moves and veteran leadership, the former seemed to have built the foundation for a potential dynasty, given the young age of so many franchise figureheads.
Yet, despite their 2021 success, the Rams and Bengals are currently combining for a 7-8 record. Cincinnati fell to 4-4 on the heels of a demoralizing defeat at the hands of their in-state rival Cleveland Browns.
Few players have the inside view of both franchises than two current Thursday Night Football contributors in Ryan Fitzpatrick and Andrew Whitworth. Both played for the Bengals together in 2008, while they also previously-donned uniforms for both of the Super Bowl LVI teams.
In a recent media zoom call with the TNF crew, we had the opportunity to ask both Fitzpatrick and Whitworth about the seemingly-uncharacteristic struggles of both of last year’s Super Bowl teams. While Whitworth focused in on the team with which he won the Lombardi Trophy, “Fitzmagic” honed in on the Bengals.
“You know, it’s puzzling—we think all of a sudden they figured it out,” Fitzpatrick started to our question. “I know Ja’Marr Chase, and we see the performance last night (Halloween versus the Browns), but it finally felt like this offense was back, clicking and doing their thing.”
Of course, the Bengals, even in their magical 2021 ride, have shown massive swings of inconsistency. Be it because of overall youth at critical areas, or an array of other conjectures, the week-to-week guess on if Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde will be showing up remains a coin-flip.
Still, the former Bengals quarterback remains optimistic about their outlook this year.
“I still don’t have a lot of concerns in that department, in terms of them making the playoffs and potentially putting together a run,” Fitzpatrick continued. “You know, when Ja’Marr comes back, their three receivers and Joe Mixon, combined with Joe Burrow, it’s an unbelievable combination—that talent.”
Still, at the time of posing the question, the 2022 trade deadline hadn’t passed. Cincinnati opted to not make a move in that regard, striking a chord back to another facet of Fitzpatrick’s answer.
He noted that the Bengals’ championship window is open, but they do have big decisions to make, in terms of contracts. Burrow’s rookie deal will be expiring, as will Higgins’ and the team will want to keep both, if possible. Oh, and let’s not forget about Chase, who is in the middle of his rookie deal now.
“I still like them,” Fitzpatrick said after noting the inexplicable matchup nightmare they have recently had with the Browns. “I still like (Lou) Anarumo as the D-Coordinator and the things he’s able to do for them being diverse. But, it just seems like a week-to-week proposition with them—it’s a strange team right now.”
We’ll see if Cincinnati can scrape together another run in the second half of their schedule this year to make a run. It seems like their former quarterback definitely thinks their capable of doing so.
Our thanks to the fine folks over at Amazon Prime and their TNF crew for the media invitation!