1. Joe Burrow is still regaining his rhythm
On Saturday it was great to see QB1 back on the field. He was moving around the pocket, throwing on the run, and more importantly, smiling as he made throws with his knee brace on. But make no mistake, there are going to be some hiccups come week one against the Vikings. Burrow is still out there regaining the magic he had last time we saw him in a real game situation. These are some of the first throws he has made rolling around the pocket and it was clear on Saturday. He overthrew a couple of guys, made some bad reads, but still flashed some of that pinpoint accuracy he had as a rookie. Burrow is going to return to elite form, but don’t be shocked if it takes a week or two for him to find.
2. Tee Higgins is still the WR1
I am just as excited for Ja’Marr Chase as the next guy, and rightfully so, as he made an amazing sideline catch from Burrow on Saturday. That being said, Tee Higgins is still this team’s WR1. Higgins was fantastic on Saturday, his highlight being a touchdown catch in the back corner of the endzone during the red zone scrimmage portion of the practice. Higgins was constantly getting open all day and securing all his catches. He should also see some favorable matchups too with teams also having to take Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon into account. Higgins should easily eclipse 1,000 yards this year and should see close to double-digit touchdowns if healthy.
3. The Linebackers may still be a liability
The Bengals have put a lot of effort in the last few years to improve the linebacker core, and it will no doubt be better, but there is still work to be done. Drafting three linebackers in last year’s draft to pair with Germaine Pratt, the Bengals are attacking the position, but Saturday’s practice may have shown why they need to invest more highly in the draft rather than going for quantity. There were multiple occasions where a running back or tight end slipped free in drills and made an easy wide-open catch. While it was only practice, we may once again have a season where we bite our tongues and pray that the linebackers aren’t a total liability. It will be a big prove it year for both Germaine Pratt and Logan Wilson, who will be wearing the radio on defense in 2021.
4. The Defensive Backs are scrappy
The loss of Williams Jackson III was a big one, but the team brought in multiple free agents in Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton to pair with last year’s big free-agent Trae Waynes. Even newly acquired free agent Eli Apple was making an impact in Saturday’s practice. While this team may not have a true CB1, one thing was obvious, this is a tough and scrappy cornerback room that isn’t going to let anything come easy. They broke up multiple passes and forced several coverage sacks in drills. This secondary, with Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III at safety, may be one of the strengths of the defense this fall. The revamped cornerback room is hungry to prove doubters wrong!
5. This team gels well together
After the drama last year of guys either not buying into Coach Taylor, or guys being locker room cancer, it appears that is all behind us. One thing stood out more than anything Saturday and that is this team gets along! Joe Mixon was hyping up defenders, defenders were swarming each other after good plays, heck, we already had Ja’Marr Chase dancing! This team is having fun and they are working together well. There is no drama, no locker room cancers, just a well-bonded team that has each other’s backs and works together, and I think it’s all because of QB1. The Bengals have handed this franchise to Burrow and let him take the wheel and it’s showing! Ladies and gentlemen, the Cincinnati Bengals have never been in better hands!
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @PiersonNFL and let’s talk about some Bengals Football! Until next time, Who Dey!