The Cincinnati Bengals were a possible third down conversion away from making their second consecutive Super Bowl. In a scenario eerily reminiscent of the Super Bowl last year, the offensive line just couldn’t hold up long enough, as Frank Clark essentially ended the Bengals season. Cincinnati has an important offseason in front of them with several core players as unrestricted free agents. The front office is also working on a long-term contract extension for franchise quarterback, Joe Burrow. Even though Burrow has been fantastic the last two seasons, there are moves the Bengals can make to help him reach Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. Let’s take a look at how the Bengals can maximize the talents of Burrow to win their first championship.
How the Bengals Can Help Joe Burrow Reach Super Bowl LVIII
The Bengals offensive line held up well in the second half of the season when the starters were healthy. The lineup of Jonah Williams, Alex Cappa, Ted Karras, rookie, Cordell Volson, and La’el Collins were solid down the stretch. Injuries to three-fifths of the line, ultimately, derailed the Bengals Super Bowl hopes when Collins, Cappa, and Williams went down in the span of a month. The Bengals scouts and coaches need to search for upgraded backups along the offensive line and possibly at right tackle if the team decides to release Collins. While the triumvirate of Cappa, Karras, and Volson was indeed a bright spot, it still wasn’t good enough to adequately protect Burrow against elite pass rushers in the playoffs with backups. The Bengals might look to the draft and free agency to bolster the front line with a legitimate pass-blocking tight end also being an option.
Keeping the Band Together
The core of this Bengals team will be tough to keep together in the long term. The duo of Tee Higgins, and Ja’Marr Chase will earn monster contracts in their next deals. While Tyler Boyd might not get the shine of Higgins or Chase, he has played an integral part in the Bengals offense over the middle of the field in the slot. He might be open to taking a reasonable contract when his deal expires in 2023 as he nears 30 years of age. The defensive side of the ball isn’t immune to changes that might be coming. Safety, Jesse Bates is a good bet to leave in free agency. His counterpart, Vonn Bell is just as important and the one to watch in re-signing with the team. Defensive end, Trey Hendrickson has two more years until he becomes an UFA, and defensive tackle, D.J. Reader has one more. Owner, Mike Brown knows the bill is coming due for a special group of players in Bengals history. It’s imperative the Brown family does everything they can to leverage the new income from stadium naming rights and the recent success of the team to keep surrounding Burrow with great players on both sides of the ball.
“Winning Makes Believers of Us All”
The famous quote is from the legendary owner, Paul Brown, and is arguably his most famous. The Bengals have made significant strides in the last two seasons in winning consistently. The front office has also made improvements in building an indoor facility, recognizing Bengals legends via a Ring of Honor, and improving the game day experience. The changes are noticeable and a welcome sight for fans. The city of Cincinnati has truly embraced this team in a way that hasn’t been present in franchise history. All of these factors are tied to two simple things, winning and Burrow. The more the Bengals win, the more opportunities Burrow has to make his story even more remarkable.
Main Photo: Jay Biggerstaff – USA TODAY Sports
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