3 Issues Bengals Need to Address to Successfully Rebuild Around Joe Burrow
The college football season is in the books and there are only four teams still competing in the NFL Playoffs, meaning most teams are turning their attention to the offseason ahead.
LSU Tigers' quarterback Joe Burrow joined elite company by winning the Heisman Trophy and winning the National Championship, and now it seems certain that he will be heading back to Ohio, as he's almost unanimously projected to be drafted first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals.
While Burrow is a tremendous talent, having put together one of the greatest seasons in college football history, he is not going to be able to fix all of the problems that the 2-14 Bengals had this past season.
These are three key issues that Cincinnati must address in order to successfully rebuild around Burrow.
1. Improve the Offensive Line
If you invest heavily in a quarterback without investing in the offensive line around him, you end up with a situation like the Colts had early in Andrew Lucks' career, when he got the crud kicked out of him with 41 sacks as a rookie. Aside from the obvious benefit of keeping Burrow upright, improving the offensive line would also assist the running game and help create a better, more balanced offense overall. This season, the Bengals averaged only 3.9 yards per rush (No. 24 in NFL) while giving up the league's 10th highest sack rate.
2. Figure Out A.J. Green's Future
Wide receiver A.J. Green has been one of the few bright spots for Cincinnati's recent history, but he is not getting any younger (32 in July), and he's set to become an unrestricted free agent. Green also missed the entire 2019 season with an injury, missed seven games in 2018 and missed six games the year before that. While consistency has been the theme of his career, the only consistent part of his game recently has been his injuries. There's no doubting his talent, so if he is healthy right now the Bengals could try to get him back on a team-friendly deal. A healthy Green may still command a big contract though, and Cincy could be better of letting him walk to give young wideouts John Ross and Tyler Boyd the opportunity to grow with Burrow.
3. Draft Defensive Front Seven Personnel
Along with struggling to run the ball, the Bengals also had trouble stopping the run. They gave up a league-high 2,382 rushing yards at 4.7 yards per rush (T-No. 26 in NFL). If Cincinnati wants to give their young quarterback chances to win games and get their offensive unit on the field, they must be able to stop the run. This becomes even more important when considering the teams in their division, as the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns both checked in with top-five averages for yards per rush attempt in the regular season.
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