Cincinnati Bengals Team Overview 2020
Cincinnati Bengals Overview
Mike Brown. Mike is the son of football legend Paul Brown. There is truly too much to write on Paul Brown that you should just google him if you want to learn more. Mike joined Paul in starting the Cincinnati Bengals.
Paul left the Cleveland Browns in the late 1960’s and founded the Cincinnati Bengals. Mike Brown has been the assistant general manager since the teams conception and became the owner in 1991 when Paul died. Since 1991, Mike has managed and owned the team.
Mike Brown. Brown is the only owner besides Jerry Jones to general manage his team. He has not fared too well either. He has been known as being cheap and not doing a good job of putting together a winning product.
The organization is kind of in a mess right now. They have some promising pieces but still look like a couple of years away from true success.
Zac Taylor. Taylor was hired in 2019 to replace the longtime former head coach in Marvin Lewis. Taylor has been a quarterbacks coach, wide receiver coach and offensive coordinator for the dolphins in 2015 before landing the head coaching gig with the Bengals. Taylor has had a really short NFL coaching career.
He is only 37 years old. He hasn’t coached under any well known coaches either except Sean McVay. McVay’s NFL success is yet to be known either. Mike Brown really took a chance on Taylor. Things didn’t go too well in 2019. This is mainly because the Bengals had a lack of talent. However, the Bengals did lose a couple of close games in 2019. Overall the team was a mess.
Taylor has a lot more talent on offense this season and the defense quietly added some good pieces too. The Bengals are in a really competitive division that has gone to either the Steelers or Ravens for the past 2 decades. The Bengals have a huge task ahead of them in order to win another division.
Fantasy outlook for the Bengals
QB: Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow looked so smooth at LSU. Nothing fazed him. I think he has a really good rookie year and wins offensive rookie of the year. If Andy Dalton can throw for 3,500 yards and 16 touchdowns in 13 games then I see no problem why Burrow can’t get 4,000 passing yards and 27 touchdowns.
He has a lot of talent at wide receiver and at running back so he shouldn’t have any problem getting the play makers the ball. The only concern is that his offensive line is really bad. However, head coach Zac Taylor was able to change his offense midway through the season to fit his personnel better.
I don’t see any reason why Taylor won’t be able to get the most out of this group in 2020. Taylor looks and sounds like a good leader for this team and offense. Burrow is being drafted around the 13th to 14th round of fantasy mock drafts.
I think he would be a great late round selection to be your backup quarterback. He could blossom into something special.
RB: Joe Mixon
The thing I want to see from Zac Taylor is involving Mixon more in the passing game. Mixon only had 35 catches last season. The good thing about Taylor is that he broke from his favorite run scheme and the new scheme allowed for Mixon to have better rushing games.
This bodes really well for Mixon because the same offensive line is back except for left tackle Jonah Williams who didn’t play last season due to injury. The nice thing about Mixon is that nobody is threatening to take carries away from him. The other nice thing about Mixon is that he has a lot of pride and confidence.
He has really high standards for himself. This bodes especially well for fantasy owners who want Mixon because he is going into his contract season. Now the Bengals also have a legitimate QB too in Joe Burrow. This should keep the defenses more honest. AJ Green is back too so this should create less attention on Mixon.
This will also keep the defense from teeing off on the O-line the entire game too. Last season Mixon finished 13th in fantasy points for running backs in half PPR leagues. There is no way that he doesn’t do better in 2020 with improvements to this offense at WR in Green, LT in Williams and QB in Burrow.
I like Mixon to finish with 240 carries for 1,150 yards, 45 catches for 350 yards and 9 total touchdowns. These are very realistic projections and this would be good for around 230 fantasy points in half PPR formats. That will make Mixon around the 10th best fantasy running back. That is a solid selection.
The only thing about Mixon is that he has a brutal fantasy playoff stretch against good defenses. I would probably look to draft somebody else unless you are in a trade happy fantasy league.
WR: AJ Green
If Joe Burrow is going to throw for around 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns then Green is going to get 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns. I think this happens for sure. The only way this doesn’t happen is if Green gets injured.
Green hasn’t had a QB like Burrow in his career. They could be crazy good together. Green is being drafted around the 4th and 5th round.
People are really low on him because of his injuries and overall uncertainty surrounding the Bengals. I say take a chance on Green if he falls to you in the 5th round.
WR: Tyler Boyd
Tyler Boyd is very talented. I really like Boyd to have around 1,000 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns with Joe Burrow this season. I really like Boyd a lot if AJ Green stay healthy. I like Boyd a lot if Green isn’t healthy lol.
Boyd is being drafted around the 6th and 7th round. I know that there are a lot of weapons on this offense but if Joe Burrow is going to flirt with 30 passing touchdowns and 4,000 yards then Boyd has to get close to the numbers I mentioned above.
I don’t see Burrow throwing for less than 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2020. Since I feel so strongly about this, I feel strongly that Boyd will have a great season. Boyd should finish as a top 20 receiver in 2020.
WR: Tee Higgins/John Ross
Tee Higgins is somebody that might scare you from taking Tyler Boyd. The only thing about Higgins is that he is a rookie playing with very polished NFL receivers. I think Higgins picks it up well but I’m not expecting monster numbers from a true #3 WR.
I’m going to pass on drafting Higgins but if Green doesn’t stay healthy than I am picking Higgins up off the waiver wires immediately.
As for John Ross, I am staying away from him. He could bust onto the season because of Burrow but I’m not taking a chance on that by drafting him.
I think the draft pick of Tee Higgins shows that the Bengals are either preparing for Green to leave them in free agency next season or that they are moving on from Ross. It could be both. Either way, this doesn’t make me want to draft Ross at any point in the draft.
Bengals 2020 Offensive Preview
Offensive: Zac Taylor. The offensive coordinator is Brian Callahan but Taylor calls the plays. Okay, it took me forever to find anything on this offense from 2019. It was painful so I hope you enjoy reading this. I guess that is what happens when you have a dwindling fan base and a lack of internet interest from the fan base too.
I still don’t really know what the passing game scheme is except that they like to throw the ball down field. They wanted to run the zone scheme running plays that Taylor was familiar with under Sean McVay but they switched to more of a gap run scheme that focuses on pulling the interior lineman.
They made this switch halfway through the season and it gave Joe Mixon a lot more success in the running game. Other than those 2 things, I don’t have anything to report for this season’s offense. I read also that they are studying San Francisco’s running plays but every offense studies other great offenses.
The encouraging thing is that the Bengals coaching staff was willing to change it up drastically midway through the season in order to get better results.
This shows humility and trust in Taylor’s coaching staff to do something that he wasn’t familiar with. There is such a small sample size of what Taylor’s offensive scheme looks like that it is hard to predict what they will do in 2020.
One thing is probably certain, they will be behind a lot in 2020. So they will probably be pass happy a lot of the time and at Taylor’s heart, is the love to pass the ball. Mixon still had 278 rushing attempts last season which is good for 17 a game.
Mixon is also a good pass blocker so he will dominate the amount of snaps from the RB position. They have a lot of wide receivers for Burrow to throw to in 2020. Taylor said AJ Green is going to be a huge part of the offense in 2020. That is a given.
I think what we can expect is what every other offense tries to do. They will throw short passes to set up the long throws and find ways to have a successful running game with Joe Mixon. No secrets here.
Bengals 2020 Defensive Preview
Lou Anarumo is the defensive coordinator. Anarumo was the defensive backs coach for the Dolphins and that is how he ran into Zac Taylor. He then went to the Giants in 2018 to coach the defensive backs. In 2019 Taylor hired him as the defensive coordinator.
I don’t know what it is about the Bengals but they are my 30th team that I have done a team review on and I have had such a hard time finding out what they do. I have read a lot of articles on the defense and on Anarumo but have yet to find out what scheme he runs other than being in a nickel package for about 70% of the time.
The main thing to understand about this defense is that they have totally overhauled the players from last season and brought in new faces through free agency and the draft. I think they run a 4-2-5 defense.
With one of the 5 defensive backs being more of an outside linebacker or cornerback depending on the play. But then I have also read that they run more of a 3-4 defense. It’s all confusing when you are trying to break down a bad NFL defense.
Let’s look at the players.
Bengals Defensive Line
The defensive line is anchored by their new free agent signing in DJ Reader. The Bengals think they got an absolute steal in Reader. It’s actually kind of funny the way they talk about him. They talk about him like he Aaron Donald. They said that he is the best Nose Tackle in the NFL.
Reader is very good against the run but lacks true pass rushing ability but can be disruptive at times. Two longtime Bengals that start on the D-line are Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins. They both will be in their 30’s this season and their play has dropped a little bit too.
I don’t know if this is more age or the fact that they didn’t have a chance to do well due to being tired from being on the field a lot. It is kind of hard to tell what you will get from these 2 players in 2020.
I think the Bengals offense is a lot better and thus allows the defense to not be on the field a lot. I also think this Bengals defense gets a lot better in 2020 too. This should allow for more opportunities from both Atkins and Dunlap.
The other defensive end opposite of Dunlap will be Sam Hubbard or Carl Lawson. Lawson has a lot of pass rushing ability. He recorded 9 sacks in his rookie season in 2017. In 2018 he missed most of the season with an ACL injury. In 2019, he had a hamstring injury for a lot of the season but also didn’t have opportunities due to bad game situations.
Teams were running all over the Bengals so they didn’t have a lot of true pass rushing opportunities. Hubbard was a bright spot for this defensive line last season. He was able to record 8.5 sacks and 76 tackles. He will be entering his 3rd season in 2020.
Hubbard could really break out this year if given the chance. The last guy to mention is their 5th round rookie out of Notre Dame. His name is Khalid Kareem and he was a team captain at Notre Dame. He has a long wingspan of 84 inches. Anarumo is excited to have that length on his defense.
Outside of those 6 players there is nobody worth mentioning. The defensive ends actually look promising on this defense. It is the interior guys that are concerning. One of the D-line man back ups opted out because of Covid-19 and the other failed a physical. So they only have Reader and Atkins right now. They said they will get a back up for them soon. ***Update, they signed Mike Daniels*** But still, that is definitely worth monitoring.
Bengals 2020 Linebackers
The linebackers are the weakest link on this team. The starters will be Germaine Pratt and Josh Bynes. Pratt was a rookie last season but he didn’t do anything amazing. The 3rd round rookie out of Wyoming, Logan Wilson will compete against Pratt for the starting job. Wilson is a really good run defender and apparently has good instincts.
Wilson isn’t very good in man on man coverage so maybe he gets subbed out during 3rd down plays. Back to Bynes. Bynes is the veteran who was signed this off season from Baltimore. Bynes is a longtime NFL Vet but hasn’t really done anything incredible.
It’s kind of amazing that he is entering his 10th NFL season because I don’t really remember him sticking out. He is pretty good in pass coverage and will be the outside linebacker in this defense but has limited starting experience.
They also drafted another rookie in the 4th round out of Appalachian State in Akeem Davis-Gaither. ADG is very athletic and aggressive at the point of attack. He is a high energy guy that plays with emotion. He likes contact.
Lastly, Jordan Evans has been on the team for 3 seasons but hasn’t done much. That is the linebacker room for the Bengals. It isn’t a pretty room. I think best case scenario is that Wilson becomes a great starter and Pratt progresses into an average linebacker.
The outside linebacker will be Bynes and ADG. Bynes has some ability but isn’t a star. Overall, the front 7 shouldn’t be the worst in the NFL against the run since they added Reader and Wilson. Bynes and ADG like playing against the run too. I think they will be a middle of the road run defense with potential.
I also like the pass rushing ability but don’t love it. No true dominant edge rusher unless Hubbard breaks through or Dunlap looks like what he did earlier in his career. Collectively they should get to around 40 total sacks.
I think this front 7 keeps them competitive in a lot of games this season. The pivotal thing to keep an eye on is the interior linemen. They are very thin at that position. Ok, enough of the front 7, let’s look at this new look secondary.
Mike Brown added cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander both from the Vikings. Waynes had a couple of really good seasons early on in his career but hasn’t looked the same in his last 2 seasons.
Alexander is a pretty good rotational guy or slot corner. He is an average NFL cornerback who is worthy of having on your team. The other starting cornerback is William Jackson III. Jackson had a couple of really promising seasons in his rookie and sophomore years with the Bengals. He didn’t do too well last season.
I really liked Jackson coming out of college. So maybe with a better front 7 in 2020, Jackson can have more favorable plays to make in the secondary. Past those 3 players are around 6 players that all have NFL experience.
I think those 6 players will give the Bengals 2 or 3 decent back ups with some upside. Not anything to get excited about though.
At safety they signed Von Bell from the Saints. Bell enters his 5th season in the NFL and he is more of a run stopper and sure tackler. He has forced a lot of fumbles in his career. He hasn’t had a lot of interceptions or passes defended.
This is something he just isn’t great at. Bell will compete with 3rd year safety, Jessie Bates III. Bates has had a couple of quality seasons with the Bengals. He isn’t great in the run game but is pretty good in coverage. He has 6 interceptions in his 2 seasons.
The other safety is Shawn Williams. Williams is a longtime Bengal and has made a lot of plays for this defense. He has 12 interceptions in the past 5 seasons. I like for this safety group to have a better chance to make plays in 2020.
Overall, this defense has glaring question marks from the linebackers, interior D-line depth and cornerbacks. I don’t think this will be the worst defense in the NFL like they were in 2019.
The biggest concern for this unit is how they can come together and play early on in the season due to a lack of off season. I think it will take them until the middle of the season until they start playing better.
They are also one injury away at 3 position to really becoming a liability in certain situations. With all of this being said, I like this defense to be an average run stopping defense but a below average pass defense.
I don’t think there is enough talent at the cornerback or linebackers to cover well. The safeties are pretty impressive but I think good and great passing offenses will have their way against this group.
Fun Facts About Coaches
The offensive coordinator, Brain Callahan, is the son of longtime NFL coach Bill Callahan.
Al Golden, the former Miami Hurricanes head coach is the linebackers coach.
Contract Year Players:
WR: AJ Green
S: Shawn Williams
WR: John Ross
CB: William Jackson
CB: Mackenzie Alexander
RB: Joe Mixon
DL: Carl Lawson
LB: Jordan Evans
Bengals 2020 Offensive Line
This is probably the worst offensive line in the NFL. The best player is a guy in Jonah Williams who hasn’t even played an NFL snap yet. He missed the entire 2019 season due to injury but was the Bengals 1st round pick in 2019.
He should, and hopefully be good for the Bengals at left tackle. He was one of the most polished lineman coming out of college at the University of Alabama. If Jonah turns out to be a bust then this line is in serious trouble.
The rest of the 4 lineman were on the team last year so there aren’t any improvements. The right tackle is Bobby Hart and he was a 7th round pick out of Florida State. He has been bad his entire career. He is a bottom feeder tackle in the NFL.
Mike Brown drafted a tackle in the 6th round out of Kansas in Hakeem Adeniji. The scouts said he is a project and really isn’t good at any one thing. This spells disaster lol. The other back up is an undrafted tackle and 2nd year undrafted tackle, Fred Johnson. Johnson was undrafted by the Steelers and then joined the Bengals.
He got some experience last season but was not good in those outings. That is literally it for the tackle spots. It is a really bad situation at right tackle to say the least. The interior positions don’t get any better.
The center is Trey Hopkins and he has been with the Bengals since 2014 as a rookie. He had his best season last year but he is still a below average center compared to the rest of NFL centers. The guards battling it out to start are Michael Jordan, Alex Redmond, Billy Price, O’Shea Dugas and Xavier Su’a-Filo.
I think the most interesting of these 4 guys is O’Shea Dugas. Dugas was an undrafted rookie last season and had a strong preseason but missed the entire season due to injury. He is a big body and also wrestled in high school. He definitely has the most potential out of the 4 players.
Su’a-Filo has the most experience out of the 4 players but has never had a great career. Throughout his entire career he has been a below average guard. Price and Jordan started a lot of games last season but weren’t very good. They are both young as well.
The last guy is Alex Redmond. Redmond started 15 games in 2018 but wasn’t very good either and missed most of last season due to injury. So the best case scenario is that Jonah Williams is a Monster from day 1.
Bobby Hart plays average or atleast isn’t terrible. The Center, Hopkins plays average. The Dugas guy surprises everybody and the other guard spot doesn’t become a liability. That is a really sad worst case scenario. I feel bad for Joe Burrow.