Expect a much-improved Cincinnati Bengals offense in 2020, headlined by A.J. Green’s return, Joe Mixon’s legs and Joe Burrow’s arrival.
Sometimes the best way to reignite your team is getting a solid piece back in the fold.
In this case, the Cincinnati Bengals are also adding a potentially franchise-altering one as well.
Under first-year head coach Zac Taylor, the Bengals went 2-14. While neither the offense or defense was inspiring, Cincinnati finished 30th in points per game averaging 17.4. One reason is the Bengals were without their seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green.
Green, who missed all of the 2019 season with an ankle injury, is franchise-tagged for 2020. With a year well rested, he may be back to being the Green that Bengals fans have been accustomed to seeing. Pair Green with the team’s leading receiver in 2019, Tyler Boyd, and this could be a threatening duo.
Additionally, Green’s ability to stretch the field could improve the running game as well, forcing the opposing defense to be on their toes.
Then there’s Joe Burrow.
Barring a miracle, the Bengals will be selecting Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in April. The LSU star had one of the greatest seasons in college football history, throwing for 5,671 yards on 10.6 yards per attempt along with 60 touchdowns. The numbers are staggering, almost like playing Madden on rookie level after mastering the game.
Burrow has the ability to throw the deep ball well. With a weapon like Green, and other complementary pieces on offense, this unit has the potential to improve dramatically in 2020.
Another benefit is Burrow would be under a rookie contract. This will give the Bengals flexibility in cap space for years to come.
Cincinnati has already been more aggressive this year than in any prior free-agency period, adding cornerbacks Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes, safety Vonn Bell and nose tackle D.J. Reader. All are coming off their rookie pacts and in total, cost more than $100 million.
The idea of a young quarterback bringing new energy to this franchise is tantalizing for a fanbase long left for dead by ownership. With weapons in place for Burrow to be successful, he can come in and immediately be a force.
Finally, the Bengals have a 1,000-yard rusher in Joe Mixon to help Burrow ease into the league.
Mixon has proven to be versatile running and catching out of the backfield. A lack of touches is what held him back last season, and so the Bengals will have to consistently make it a point to get Mixon involved.
Still, there’s no denying the upside being amassed in the Queen City. While the Bengals have a long way to go, they’re making clear strides towards contention.