As of this typing, we are just a little over 48 hours until the Chargers take the field in Cincinnati. If you are one of few people who don’t know a ton about the Bengals, we’ve got you covered. Patrick Judis of our sister site, Cincy Jungle, has answered five questions for us to help you paint a clearer picture about this week’s opponent.
Patrick did a phenomenal job with this and left no stone unturned. Hopefully you have some time to set aside to get through this comprehensive scouting report.
1. Joe Burrow was one of the best quarterback prospects of the past decade and was chosen as the No. 1-overall pick this year. However, in the past 15 years, QBs who were the first-overall picks are 0-5-1 when starting week one. Do you think Burrow is capable of breaking that trend? If so, what makes Bengals fans so confident in him so quickly?
I believe he is capable of breaking that trend, and a lot of it has to do with the players beyond him. This was a team that won two games last year, but the roster is so drastically different. Getting players like A.J. Green and last year’s first round pick Jonah Williams on the field alone helps lay a foundation at areas where Cincinnati struggled last season.
As far as Burrow himself goes, he is very much one of those quarterbacks who will have everyone playing their best football. Veterans can’t talk enough about how impressed they are with him, and everyone is walking with their shoulders a little bit higher than before. The coaches have also talked about how far ahead he is than they expected he would be given the offseason they had to prepare.
He should make this offense very exciting to watch.
2. Joe Mixon got a nice new contract extension this offseason and that shows the Bengals are committed to the workhorse running back. What makes Mixon such a dangerous runner and do you agree with his 4-year, $48 million extension?
So this is a bit of a divisive subject, but here is my opinion on this move specifically with where the Bengals are and Mixon’s performance. It 100 percent depends on if this move means they let other young talented players walk when their contracts are up.
What Mixon did the second half of the 2019 season was amazing. The fact he eclipsed over 1,000 rushing yards was a miracle after the way the season started and the way that offensive line performed.
I also think if Zac Taylor and the offense wanted to, that Mixon could be a guy who catches 60-80 passes a year, but they really haven’t used him like that.
The duration of this contract is also during Mixon’s prime years, so it isn’t like they are overpaying a guy whose production is about to drop off.
However, if guys like safety Jessie Bates, cornerback William Jackson or a wide receiver like Green or John Ross (if Burrow gets him to play to what he was expected to be) then this deal wasn’t worth it.
3. AJ Green is expected to be 100% this Sunday in what will be his first NFL game since the end of the 2018 season. How has he looked in practice and what’s been the word surrounding Green heading into the weekend?
It seems like everyone is being cautiously optimistic with Green. He had a very small injury early in camp, but it is clear the plan is to make sure he stays healthy for the season. He hasn’t done a ton of practicing in full pads, but he has done plenty of work with Burrow to make sure they are on the same page going into the season.
We should expect to see him play a significant amount of snaps, but he won’t be playing the whole game.
4. The Bengals defense looks a bit different this season compared to last year. They’ve added defensive tackle DJ Reader and cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. Although Waynes is currently hurt, what is the overall impression of this defense heading into 2020?
The thing I’m most excited about is the addition of safety Vonn Bell and the young linebackers they drafted (Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaithers, and Markus Bailey) to go along with Germaine Pratt. Those guys should fix a long standing problem we’ve had with our linebackers in coverage. The rookies will make mistakes, but at least they actually have a chance at making plays against the athleticism that today’s NFL game requires.
Reader will help take plenty of attention away from Geno Atkins and should open up some of the other talented defensive linemen to be able to make more plays.
Mackensie Alexander should be a much needed improvement at nickel back, but also make sure to remember the name Darius Phillips. He made a ton of plays down the stretch last season, and he could leave a mark as he should be playing a significant amount in Waynes’ place.
5. On Thursday, Charger cornerback Casey Hayward said that the Bengals have one of the top groups of skill position players in the league, even going as far as to say that they’re up there with Kansas City. What do you make of Hayward’s comments and do you personally agree with him?
If all of our wide receivers stay healthy and play to their potential I can see the point he is trying to make. I wouldn’t say we have a Chiefs-level offense by any means, that is hyperbole. Health and underperformance has been a huge issue.
However, Green is still one of the best when healthy. Tyler Boyd has proved himself in filling in for Green the past two seasons. If Burrow can hit Ross deep consistently, the feelings on him will change real quick, and Tee Higgins could be a very good player, as well. Not to mention Mixon is also one of the best in the league.
The problem is staying healthy, consistency along the offensive line, having a rookie quarterback and just generally everyone playing up to what is expected of them. On paper, it is good, but we still have to see them prove it come game time.