As announced on Wednesday evening, there are three Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowl selections. This marks the first time since 2017 that the Bengals had three selections. In the heat of a playoff race, Cincinnati’s off-season acquisitions are really paying off. Of the three selections, two of them were not Bengals in 2020. Not to mention that the third only appeared in six games.
Each of these selections is well-earned and each has been instrumental to the fact Cincinnati is close to locking down the AFC North.
Cincinnati Bengals Earn Most Pro Bowl Selections Since 2017
The lone Bengals Pro Bowl starter is the rookie out of LSU. Now can we put to bed the Chase vs Penei Sewell debate?
This season, Chase has proven that the decision to select him fifth overall was the right one. Without Chase, the Cincinnati faithful would likely already be playing with mock draft machines and debating the next top-15 pick. Instead, Chase is able to link up with his college buddy and make plays when things break down.
While he may have cooled off, Chase is still ninth in the league with 1,038 yards and third with 10 touchdowns. His 17 yards per reception is also third in the NFL, but imagine if he didn’t drop 11 passes thus far. Drops or no, Chase is already garnering the respect of opposing defenses. Each of the last few weeks, defenses have had at least a safety shade on his side of the field. Statistically, he was absent against Denver in Week 15, but he had a massive off-script play called back due to holding, so there were opportunities.
This final three-game stretch is going to be crucial for Chase and the Bengals. Cincinnati will likely need him to repeat his eight-catch (off of 10 targets), 201-yard, one-touchdown game this week against Baltimore. It’s not outlandish to think that this selection is the first of many for the one they call UNO. He’s still got a solid case for Rookie of the Year.
Hendrickson has absolutely earned his contract that many claimed to be too much. After losing Carl Lawson to free agency, the Bengals needed a pass rusher. In 2020, the Bengals totaled 17 sacks all season. In 2021, Hendrickson alone has 13.
All year, Hendrickson has been dominant, drawing each team’s best offensive lineman. Only in Week 1 and Week 4 did Hendrickson not record at least half of a sack. He’s currently on a 10-game streak of games where he has recorded at least half of a sack. The NFL record currently stands at 12 games, so if Hendrickson can continue his ways, he will own a significant record before the Bengals suit up for playoffs.
All season, Hendrickson has terrorized offenses and is finally getting the recognition he deserves. He forces Holding calls and he’s even joked that he gets held every play. His hand placement and footwork are elite. Hendrickson is well worth his contract.
*Knocking on wood* Mixon is on-pace to play in a full season for the first time since 2019 and only the second time in his career. Who would’ve thought that bringing back Frank Pollack as offensive line coach would bring a resurgence of Mixon? Well, anyone who believes offensive line play and proper technique is crucial.
Mixon has already surpassed his career-best in touchdowns with 12 (eight was previously the mark) and is just 75 yards away from surpassing his yardage. With (at least) three games to go, Mixon is set to smash that mark and eye the Bengals single-season rushing record of 1,458 held by Rudi Johnson.
All year, Mixon has found running lanes and made defenses pay if they tried to cheat and take away the passing attack. He’s rushed for over 100 yards three times so far this year and had a stretch of back-to-back-to-back games where he found the endzone twice. That was in the middle of a six-game stretch of at least one touchdown scored.
With the second-most yards and third-most touchdowns on the ground, it’s a no-brainer that Mixon is included in the Bengals Pro Bowl selections.
Joe Burrow (second alternate)
Second-year quarterback Burrow was named as the second alternate and still has a chance to be a Bengals Pro Bowl selection. Just a year removed from having his left knee obliterated, Burrow is also staking his claim to be Comeback Player of the year. Of course, if asked, Burrow would trade both the Pro Bowl and CPOY for a super bowl.
Despite throwing a league-worst 14 interceptions and taking a league-worst 44 sacks, Burrow continues to deal. He just took over the position of highest-rated PFF quarterback after the win over Denver and has gone two games without giving the ball away.
Joe Burrow: 90.4 PFF Grade in 2021
— PFF (@PFF) December 23, 2021
He’s had to play hero-ball and overcome a number of failures, both of himself and of teammates. Some of the most exciting plays are when the pocket and play break down and he spins out of a sure sack and finds Chase for a touchdown. Get this man an offensive line – and work with Chase to limit drops – and Burrow will lead Cincinnati to greatness.
Clark Harris (second)
Long snappers are people, too! Harris has taken social media by storm with his legendary handlebar mustache. The man looks like a trucker who grunts in disappointment as he settles on eating a reheated gas station burrito for his dinner at 2:00 A.M. But he’s a world record holder for longest snap and is one of the most consistent special team players in the NFL.
He’s not as flashy nor does he have many recordable stats, but Harris is an elite long snapper.
Sam Hubbard (fouth)
The third-year defensive end out of Ohio State is a bit of a longshot to be a Bengals Pro Bowl participant. Regardless, Hubbard has taken advantage of the attention that Hendrickson warrants.
Not quite known for his pass-rushing ability, Hubbard has recorded 7.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and 17 quarterback hits. His strength is in the run game where he can dictate where the tackle goes and can shed them for the big play. He’s also been known to kick inside to help the defensive tackles clog the running lanes.
Cincinnati’s nominee for the Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award, Hubbard is a fine alternate to be a Bengals Pro Bowl selection.
Larry Ogunjobi (fourth)
Yet another off-season signing, Ogunjobi has been worth his contract since coming over from Cleveland. The defensive tackle has been able to disrupt quarterbacks week in and week out. Thus far, Ogunjobi has accounted for seven sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and got 12 hits on the quarterback.
Over the last three weeks, Ogunjobi sacked the quarterback at least once each. Against Denver, his fourth-quarter sack all but sealed the deal because it disrupted any chance the Broncos had of driving down the field for the win.
His best game thus far was in Week 7 against Baltimore. Cincinnati will need Ogunjobi to replicate his 1.5-sack, two tackle for loss, six total tackles game again this week to push his team that much closer to playoffs.
Mike Hilton (fifth)
The final Bengals Pro Bowl alternate came to Cincinnati this past off-season from Pittsburgh. Mike Hilton was not brought in to be a shut-down corner that the Bengals make cover the top receivers in the league. He is usually an elite tackler and blitzer.
Seemingly, Hilton is the only Bengals corner who has suited up for all 14 games thus far. Considering those also in the cornerback room, Hilton’s be ability is his availability. Overall, Hilton has embraced Cincinnati and the fans have embraced him. Even though it was his hit that gifted the New York Jets a crucial first down via a borderline penalty, Hilton has done his job.
What can be said except he’s certainly not the worst Bengals corner this year…
Who Was Snubbed?
Fans can talk up the offensive line all they want, but none of the Bengals who have played up front have earned much right to be a Bengals Pro Bowl selection.
Perhaps Tee Higgins had a legitimate gripe. However impressive three straight 100+ yard games are, he’s not of the premier receivers in the league.
The biggest snubs, according to Bengals Twitter, were Chidobe Awuzie and D.J. Reader. Each signed in the last two off-seasons, Awuzie and Reader have been rock solid at their positions all year. Awuzie has surpassed any and all expectations one may have had come from Dallas. He continually faces off against great receivers and gives his best each play. Reader is as quietly elite as can be. He’s a massive reason the Bengals defense has had a renaissance and the linebackers have had career years. He can two-gap to stop the run. He can also just bull rush over centers and get to the quarterback, even if that’s not his specialty.
Regardless, congratulations to Chase, Hendrickson, and Mixon! Hopefully, for the Bengals sake, none of their players will have to worry about this game because they’ll be too busy preparing for Super Bowl LVI.
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