The 2021 Cincinnati Bengals truly had a remarkable season. This group was led by several players who had breakout seasons that helped fuel their Super Bowl run. The Bengals were predicted to finish last in the AFC North and several NFL media outlets had the team with a losing record for the year. It turns out, this was a special group that dismantled every prognostication put forth. Cincinnati was led by a fantastic sophomore season from quarterback Joe Burrow and his college running mate Ja’Marr Chase. Fellow rookie, Evan McPherson also came up clutch both in the regular season and in the playoffs. On the defensive side of the ball, the team was carried by several free agents including Trey Hendrickson who propelled the Bengals to victory in closing multiple games. Let’s give out some awards for the Bengals 2021 season and see who shined the brightest.
Cincinnati Bengals 2021 Season Awards
Most Valuable Player (and Comeback Player of the Year): Joe Burrow
A close call between Burrow and Chase, truth be told, on the most valuable front. Burrow wins out due to the importance of the position and his amazing recovery from a devastating knee injury in his rookie season. Burrow would play 16 regular-season games and four postseason contests in taking the Bengals to Super Bowl LVI. Burrow threw for 5716 yards with 39 touchdown passes, and 16 interceptions, all while being sacked an unprecedented 70 times. Cincinnati has found their franchise quarterback for the next 15 seasons and they look to finally get their first championship in club history.
Offensive Player (and Offensive Rookie of the Year): Ja’Marr Chase
McPherson gets an honorable mention in this category, but where would the Bengals be without Chase in 2021? The LSU product was simply fantastic from his first game of the season. Chase had one of the best wide receiver seasons of all time on his way to winning Rookie of the Year. The Bengals would use the Burrow and Chase connection early and often. Chase was masterful in running a varied route tree in roasting defensive backs from every team the Bengals played. The 21-year-old phenom had 1823 receiving yards with 14 touchdowns. The team will look to build off of the success of Chase in 2021 and seem very excited about what he can do in his second act.
Defensive Player of the Year: Trey Hendrickson
One of the best free-agent signings in recent memory in the NFL. Hendrickson was a man on a mission for the Bengals this season. Playing opposite of Sam Hubbard along the Bengals defensive line, this duo made for a formidable pass rush for opposing offensive fronts. Hendrickson amassed 17.5 sacks and four forced fumbles on his way to his first Pro Bowl selection.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Cam Sample
The defensive end/tackle from Tulane was a solid contributor all season long. Sample played in 14 games, had one and a half sacks, and made several timely plays both in the regular and post-season. The Bengals hope to team him next year with a fellow rookie defensive end, Joseph Ossai who had his season cut short by injury.
Most Improved Player: Joe Mixon
The Bengals running game was also a big reason they made it as far as they did in 2021. Mixon was a key cog in the offensive machine that makes the Bengals go and had one of his best seasons as a professional. Mixon rushed for 1467 yards and 14 touchdowns including throwing for one in the Super Bowl to Tee Higgins. Mixon is under contract through the 2024 season and the Bengals have quite the offensive nucleus to continue to build around.
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