Hope — [noun] a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen
Hope is something Cincinnati Bengals fans had had for numerous years entering the 2019 season, but it’s starting to wither away. Since 2005, Cincinnati has had seven trips to the playoffs — with every single one resulting in a Wild Card Round loss — and haven’t made it to the Divisional Round since 1990. In the past four seasons, specifically, the Bengals have had a losing record. And in 2019, the franchise produced its worst season since 2002.
On the bright side, the Bengals now have the number one overall pick in a draft that has the best quarterback PFF College has ever seen. Getting solid play from a quarterback on a rookie deal is huge, as it opens up a window to pay other free agents at other positions with what would normally go to the massive quarterback contract and really compete for a Super Bowl. Former Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has recently spoken out about how the Bengals don’t have that type of mentality:
“That's why I wanted out: I never felt like the (Bengals') organization was really trying to win a Super Bowl. … You can't just hope you draft well and not go after free agents and you just end up in the Super Bowl. You gotta go get it.” – Palmer in an interview with The D.A. Show
The good news for Cincinnati is that the opportunity to move away from that mentality and act on it this offseason is there — because of Joe Burrow. Before we dive into that, let’s look at the scheme tweaks needed to play to Burrow’s strengths:
Bringing Burrow’s scheme to the Queen City
Before being hired as the Bengals' head coach this past year, Zac Taylor was Sean McVay’s quarterbacks coach with the Los Angeles Rams in 2018. As a result, he has integrated very similar philosophies in his offense with Cincinnati, which wasn’t too different from the one Joe Brady brought to Burrow and LSU in 2019. Still, there are some differences between the two. Playing to a quarterback’s strengths is vital in maximizing their potential, and mirroring the offense that helped Burrow breakout this past year is the route to go — starting with more run-pass options (RPO).