4. Bengals have to stay healthy
While injuries are a fact of life in the NFL, how players deal with them and how teams adjust are often the difference between playoffs and sad offseasons. If a team is in contention, minor injuries that players can often play through become season-ending ailments.
Zac Taylor’s first two seasons, with the injuries to AJ Green and Joe Mixon respectively, underscore this point. It’s unknown whether either would have gutted through their injuries if the team had been in contention, but both would have had more reason to play had a playoff spot been a reality.
With some luck and some incentive to stay off the injury report, a relatively healthy roster going into November can make a world of difference.
3. Bengals must balance the offense
As much as we all love to watch Joe Burrow sling the ball, expecting him to drop back 45 times a game is a recipe for disaster. Besides a great offensive line, which the Bengals do not have, the best way to protect a quarterback is to run the ball.
Being creative with the game plan hasn’t been Taylor’s forte, but he will need to commit more to getting Joe Mixon untracked in 2021 if the Bengals are to chase a playoff berth. New offensive line coach, and run game coordinator Frank Pollack can go a long way toward making this a reality.
If Taylor really views Pollack as the run game specialist, and Pollack can coach the offensive line up to just being average, not only can Mixon have a career year, but the entire offense can take off without the threat of defenses playing strictly pass.