Image Credit: (Gary Vasquez/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
With Training Camp about to start for the NFL in a few weeks, there are questions that follow each team. Like I did with the Chiefs, I will be doing the Top 5 Biggest questions for every team heading into Training Camp. Next up is the Cincinnati Bengals who had the 31st pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. But there are still questions that remain with this team.
1. If Joe Mixon gets injured, who will step up?
There is no question how talented Joe Mixon is on this offense. However in sports injuries always happen and there is a possibility Mixon suffers a severe injury. If he goes down I am not so sure who will step up. Samaje Perine was inconsistent last year, but he showed promise last season. Chris Evans is mainly a special team player, but he could be a solid pass-catching running back. Trayveon Williams was a prospect I was intrigued with during the 2019 NFL Draft, but he has not done much in the NFL. Elijah Holyfield has been a practice squad player throughout his career. Shermari Jones went undrafted in the NFL, but he could stand out if he impresses in training camp. The point is that the backup running back role is a big question mark that the Bengals need to have answered, just in case something happens to Joe Mixon. It will be a tight positional battle and I wish every player luck.
2. If Boyd, Higgins, or Chase goes down with injury, who will step up?
Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tyler Boyd are a great receiver core. Definitely a Top 10 maybe 5 receiving squad in the NFL today. But before you go on I will ask you the reader a question and I ask you to please not go on Google or Bing to look up the answer. Excluding the three receivers above, name me another receiver on this team?
Exactly, you can’t. If there was a time when Boyd, Higgins, or Chase was taken out someone would have to step up and I am not so sure who will. Stanley Morgan has mainly performed on special teams. Mike Thomas showed flashes in the 2020 season but disappointed during the 2021 season. Trent Taylor flashed during the Super Bowl and he could do something during training camp once he learns more of the playbook. Pooka Williams is also a special teams player and is switching positions from running back to wide receiver. He is an experimental player and it will be interesting to see how it goes. Trenton Irwin has done next to nothing. There are plenty of undrafted rookies as well that they brought in and they could do something if they impress in the next few weeks. It will be intriguing who stands out and who doesn’t.
3. Can Hayden Hurst be able to produce in this offense?
One big free agent that the Cincinnati Bengals lost was TE CJ Uzomah who was a solid part of that Bengals offense. So to replace Uzomah the Bengals decided to go the cheaper route and give a 1 year prove it deal with Hayden Hurst. Now I am a big fan of Hayden Hurst the person and his journey to the NFL. But he has not had the best career in the NFL. His stint in Baltimore was a flop and while he showed flashes in Atlanta, he was not consistent with the Falcons and the team was going nowhere during his tenure in Atlanta. Hopefully, he can produce with the Cincinnati Bengals and be a big piece in their offense.
4. With Jessie Bates holding out, who will step up to the role?
With the Bengals failing to come to an agreement on a new extension with Jessie Bates, it should come as no surprise that Bates has decided to hold out. It is unknown how long Bates holdout will be, but if this stretches into the regular season then somebody is going to need to step up. I thought it was going to be Daxton Hill as he played safety in college and they spent a 1st round pick on him. However, it is looking like they are going to have him play cornerback for the next season. Von Bell can be ruled out as he is going to start at Strong Safety. Trayvon Henderson has been here for multiple seasons but has not done much for the Bengals. Tycen Anderson was selected in the 5th round of the draft but is a work in progress as there are weaknesses surrounding him. Brandon Wilson did not do much and is coming off a torn ACL. Michael Thomas has been in this league many years but has not been great since he left the Giants. This is going to be very interesting how this holdout will go.
5. Can the Bengals repeat their performance from last year and not have a Superbowl Hangover?
I really like what they did during the offseason and in the draft. But making great moves doesn’t mean that they will all pan out. There are years when teams make good moves, but they don’t pan out and the team fails to repeat the strong performance that they had the year before. It is not just that, but there are some teams that have a Super Bowl hangover. A Super Bowl hangover happens when a team performs at a Super Bowl and then the next year they don’t even make the playoffs the next year. An example of one was the Los Angeles Rams who in Super Bowl 53 (You know, the bad one) had a 13-3 season and lost in that Super Bowl to the Patriots. In the next season, they went 9-7 and didn't even make the playoffs the next year. A big example of this was with the Carolina Panthers as they were in Superbowl 50 and had a 15-1 season along with losing to the Denver Broncos. The next season they missed the playoffs with a 6-10 season. The point is I believe in the Super Bowl Hangover, but teams do get over the Superbowl Hangover and make it to the playoffs like the Buccaneers and Chiefs did last season. Will the Bengals follow suit and repeat their performance, or go through the Superbowl Hangover and miss the playoffs?