Analyzing the Bengals’ Future After Super Bowl Loss

Story posted February 18, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Kasey Kreider

Unfortunately for Bengals fans, the glass slipper finally broke in Los Angeles, as Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:25 to play in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

Cincinnati turned the ball over on downs on its last possession, and the Rams celebrated as world champions.

Still, it was a season far beyond anyone’s wildest beliefs. Two years removed from being the worst team in football, the Bengals entered the 2021 campaign with a young head coach on the hot seat, a young star quarterback rehabbing from a significant knee injury, and a rookie wide receiver who showed signs of struggling in the preseason.

Fast forward to now, and the Bengals sit as the AFC champions, after going 31 years without even one playoff victory. That same head coach, Zac Taylor, just received a contract extension through 2026.

That young star quarterback, Joe Burrow, seems entrenched as a universal fan favorite and one of the young faces of the NFL following an excellent sophomore season that saw his name even creep into the MVP conversation down the stretch.

And that receiver who struggled in the preseason, Ja’Marr Chase, only went on to have one of the best rookie seasons ever for a wide receiver, which earned him the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

The question now remains, where do the Bengals go from here?

There’s no doubt that Cincinnati has the core in place to make another championship push. Burrow and Chase channeled their LSU chemistry and instantly became one of the best quarterback-wide receiver duos in the league.

On the other side, second-year player Tee Higgins stepped up in a big way, joining Chase as 1,000-yard receivers for the team. Veteran Tyler Boyd is also under contract to return, keeping a deadly wide receiver trio intact for at least another year.

Running back Joe Mixon will be back in the fold as well, coming off the best season of his career to date.

There are still some big questions for the offense, though, mainly surrounding the offensive line.

The Bengals chose to select Chase over a potential offensive tackle prospect with their first-round draft pick in 2021, and while the move certainly paid dividends, it also came at the expense of their most important player.

Burrow was the most-sacked quarterback during the 2021 regular season and was sacked seven more times in the Super Bowl. If the Bengals want to make another run, upgrading the offensive line will be a necessity.

The Bengals may also have to address the tight end position, with key contributor C. J. Uzomah becoming a free agent in March.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bengals made several big signings in the offseason, most notably defensive end Trey Hendrickson.

Hendrickson’s 14 sacks in the regular season were a career high, and he helped lead a defense that played its best football down the stretch.

Fellow offseason signings Mike Hilton and Chidobe Awuzie helped shore up Cincinnati’s cornerback room, while star safety Jessie Bates and linebacker Logan Wilson were just some of the standouts during Cincy’s stretch run. Of those players, only Bates is a free agent.

The Bengals’ biggest question on the defensive side of the ball will be whether the play of those contributors can be sustained into next season.

If Cincinnati’s defensive success was more than just a fluke, its overall team could be downright dangerous in the years to come.

Plus, the Bengals have one of the highest amounts of cap space of any team entering the offseason.

If Cincinnati’s young offensive stars continue to develop, and its defense continues to play strong, then they could be the ones hoisting the Lombardi Trophy next year in Glendale.

Kasey Kreider is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email