The Cincinnati Bengals offense has options in 2021. They drafted Ja’Marr Chase fifth overall and reunited him with Joe Burrow. The offensive line was also bolstered with multiple additions. Cincinnati signed Riley Reiff in free agency and added Jackson Carman, D’Ante Smith, and Trey Hill through the draft.
These additions give the Bengals positional flexibility along the offensive line and at wide receiver. Both position groups will play a significant factor in the success or lack thereof in the 2021 campaign.
Cincinnati Bengals Offense Has High Versatility Entering 2021
Offensive Line Options
Reiff was targeted early on by the Bengals in free agency. The veteran tackle was wined and dined in his visit by head coach Zac Taylor and Burrow. Reiff replaces the much-maligned Bobby Hart and gives the Bengals a significant upgrade at right tackle.
The new right tackle is showing leadership and impressing early in OTA’s. Offensive line coach Frank Pollack noted, “Look at that, ten-year guy and he’s the first one out here. That’s why he’s been in the league so long.” Leadership is infectious, especially in key positions. Reiff and the revamped offensive line are up to the challenge to protect Burrow at all costs.
Chase Can Transform the Offense
The Bengals offense’s biggest addition might be Chase. Burrow took too many coverage sacks as a rookie due to wide receivers not being able to separate from defensive backs. Matt Minich estimated that Burrow 32% of the sacks Burrow took had coverage as the primary cause.
Chase brings the speed, body control, and toughness that was missing from A.J. Green the last two years. The Bengals can also move their big three of Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and Chase around at the different wide receiver positions. This will create mismatches and give Taylor more freedom when calling plays.
Being a quick study is important for rookies and Chase fits the bill. Taylor said, “Ja’Marr has been impressive. He picks it up really quickly. I know there’s probably some new terms that are crossover from some old terms he’s had that, like any young receiver, but man, he gets lined up quick, he knows what to do.”
The biggest influence that Chase can have on the offense comes from his familiarity with Burrow. Even though they’ve only practiced a couple of times, Chase relayed, “We can look at each other and already know what we’re thinking. I just knew it. I just know sometimes. I had a feeling.” This familiarity should greatly benefit the Bengals and produce some immediate returns.
Retooled Burrow and Healthy Mixon Return
Burrow’s injury gave him time to refine and sharpen his game. In the off-season, Burrow took incremental steps to improve his mechanics and strengthen his entire body. Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan noticed the difference and is excited to see the finished product.
Joe Mixon missed a large part of the 2020 season and the offense sputtered because of it. Mixon is now healthy and practicing fully, and the Bengals are confident he’s a three-down back in the NFL. The offense also needs him to help in protecting Burrow by having a balanced attack.
The Bengals offense has many options and ways to attack defenses in 2021. They need all hands on deck; they’ll need to be running on all cylinders and have some good health fortune to reach new heights.
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