The Cincinnati Bengals came into the 2019 season looking to build for the future with Marvin Lewis out and rookie Zac Taylor taking over as head coach. After a hot start in 2018 (4-2) Cincinnati would eventually go on to miss the playoffs with a record of 6-10 ultimately costing Lewis his job and paving the way for Zac Taylor to take over in 2019. While hopes were not too high heading into the season, especially with star wide out A.J. going down with ankle injury on the first day of training camp, Taylor was expected to bring a bit of a new flare to the offense. Taylor was coming from Sean McVay’s system in L.A., but the offensive explosion and ingenuity never really materialized. Cincinnati’s Over/ Under win total was set at 6.0 by most sportsbooks coming into the year, predicting a similar season to the 2018 campaign.
The Bengals kicked off the season in Seattle where they were very competitive and probably should have won the game, eventually falling 21-20 to the Seahawks on what would prove to be one of their best offensive outputs of the year. The weeks that followed would see the Bengals lose seven more games in a row, dropping their record to 0-8 heading into the Week 9 Bye. At this point the Bengals had the league’s worst rushing attack and were close to the bottom in overall offense. There was no sign of A.J. Green and with the 0-8 record it looked like he was in no hurry to come back.
How Benching Andy Dalton Proved to be a Different Type of Turning Point in the Bengals Season
It was then announced that after the team’s bye week the Bengals would start rookie QB Ryan Finley, sending long time started Andy Dalton to the bench in hope of some sort of spark to the offense. You couldn’t blame Zac Taylor for making the move at that point as something had to be done. After a Week 10 drubbing by the Ravens (49-13) and two close losses to the Raiders and Steelers, the offense was still going nowhere, scoring only 10 points in Weeks 11 and 12 and causing Taylor to go back to the veteran Dalton in week 13.
The suffering would end in Cincinnati in lucky Week 13 as the Bengals found a way to get it done against the New York Jets and got that coveted first win of the season, bolstering their record to 1-11. The final weeks of the season saw an improved offense, especially the running game, and even another win. The Bengals would close out the season with a victory and—dare I say—a little momentum heading into the offseason, after a 33-23 home win against the Browns.
Things seemed to come together a little bit for the Bengals in the final weeks of the season. Joe Mixon showed he is one of the premier backs in this league with some great running in the home stretch and the young wide receiving corp showed aplenty of promise. Defensively, Cincinnati still has a long way to go and I expect that will be a point of emphasis this offseason. The Bengals, by virtue of their league worst 2-14 record, hold the No. 1 pick in the draft next spring and are expected to take LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
How Can Joe Burrow Alter the Bengals Odds and Outlook for the 2020 Season
What does Joe Burrow mean to the Bengals? Well it’s an opportunity for a fresh start for a franchise that, while competitive in stretches, could never get over that playoff hump and have never really been legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Whether it was Marvin Lewis on the sideline, Andy Dalton behind center, or any number of other issues that have prevented the Bengals from getting where they would like to be. The bottom line is this franchise has been stuck in a rut for number of years and taking a quarterback with the No. 1 pick is good place to start when you are looking for a new identity. Assuming Cincinnati selects LSU’s Joe Burrow in the upcoming NFL draft, they will be getting a very accurate and intelligent quarterback.
His astounding 55:6 touchdown to interception ratio for 2019 is proof of that. Burrow doesn’t have exceptional arm strength, but it should be more than enough at the next level. While Burrows 2018 campaign left much to be desired, he truly matured in 2019, making better decisions and becoming more of a leader en route to a record setting SEC season and winning the Heisman trophy. For a team looking for a fresh start, the 24-year-old Burrow looks to have the experience and leadership qualities that could be the perfect fit in Cincy. Let’s not forget Burrow grew up just East of Cincinnati in Athens, Ohio and has already developed quite a following in the Queen city. Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals look like a good match to me.