These aren’t the same Cincinnati Bengals we’re used to watching

Ja'Marr Chase #1 and Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Ja'Marr Chase #1 and Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals are currently 3-1 for the first time since 2016 after a primetime Thursday night win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. With many new faces on the roster and Zac Taylor finally getting the roster he envisions, this isn’t the same old ordinary Bengals we are accustomed to.

It’s a new era in Cincinnati. It’s a “New Dey.”

The last time the Bengals won three games in the month of September, Andy Dalton was at quarterback throwing the ball to his top targets A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, with Marvin Lewis running the show.

Since then, there hasn’t been much winning in the Queen City with Coach Taylor at the realm as they went 2-14 in 2019 and 4-11-1 in 2020 and finishing last in the AFC North both seasons.

Now yes, the Bengals are 3-1, but it is early in the season so saying this team is a Super Bowl contender or division contender is a little far-fetched. However, this team is not the same as they were in the past. These players finally are buying into what Zac Taylor is preaching, and Taylor, for the first time, has the roster that he’s constructed.

Cincinnati Bengals defensive breakdown

The additions of Larry Ogunjobi, B.J. Hill, Chidobe Awuzie, D.J. Reader, Vonn Bell, and Trey Hendrickson have been vital to the defense’s success this season; all moves the Bengals have made either this past offseason or the offseason a year ago.

As a result, the Bengals are currently one of the best teams at stopping the run statistically. Plus, the emergence of Logan Wilson in year two at linebacker has been unprecedented. Wilson has totaled 40 tackles, 16 Solo, 3 INT, one sack, and1 QB hit through four regular-season games this year.

In addition, he leads the entire NFL in interceptions and is second in the AFC in tackles. He is playing like one of the best defensive players in the whole league, and this has set the tone for a new and improved Bengals defense.

This group looks disciplined and committed to winning the battle in the trenches, where good football starts. They are deep throughout and have won a pivotal road game against Pittsburgh, holding them to ten points. Seeing this team make adjustments like they did in the second half against Jacksonville is a fundamental reason this Bengals team is different from the past.

Cincinnati Bengals offensive breakdown

Now the most prominent asset which separates this team, though, is Joe Burrow. Burrow has shown the ability to come back, make plays when needed, and deliver in clutch moments when called upon, and he doesn’t shy away from big moments. He truly has the mentality that you need for a quarterback to be great.

That mentality and those vibes that Burrow gives off reign down on every other player in that locker room as well. His teammates rave about his approach, his ability, and his intangibles. Plus, when the quarterback has control of the locker room, good things happen.

You could say in past seasons, the Bengals didn’t have that with Andy Dalton and even further back with Carson Palmer. They were talented quarterbacks, but the leadership skills were far below Burrows, especially in his second season.

When you look at the weapons that Burrow has at his disposal, you don’t see that type of talent since maybe 2015 when the Bengals had a prime A.J. Green alongside the best versions of Marvin Jones Jr., Mohamed Sanu, Tyler Eifert, Jeremy Hill, and Giovani Bernard.

That team went 12-4 and almost won the first playoff game since 1991 but collapsed late in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is easily the most talented squad the Bengals have had since that season.

With the Bengals top pick, Ja’Marr Chase, setting the scene early with his performance shows the chemistry alongside former LSU teammate Burrow, but he also is showing that he may be the best and most complete receiver on the team.

Also, with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd in the mix, this offense becomes exceptionally dynamic, and this might be one of the best young wide receiver trios in the entire NFL. There is still a lot to prove for this group to be put at the top, but they are all on pace for 1,000+ yard seasons except Higgins, but he has only appeared in two games and had over 100 yards between both games.

Stats by receivers: 

  • Ja’Marr Chase: 17 catches, 297 yards, 17.5 average per catch, four touchdowns
  • Tyler Boyd: 23 catches, 259 yards, 11.3 average per catch, one touchdown
  • Tee Higgins (2 games): 10 catches, 118 yards, 11.8 average per catch, two touchdowns

We shouldn’t discredit Joe Mixon, though, who is currently second in rushing in the entire NFL behind only Derrick Henry. Mixon already has won one AFC North rushing crown in his career and could be one of the more underrated backs in the league.

Mixon, a lot like Burrow, has been this team’s vocal leader. He loves to get his teammates and the fans going, leading to a better crowd in Paul Brown Stadium and getting the most out of other players on the team.

Unfortunately, Mixon only played six games after going down last season, and the Bengals finished with one of the worst rushing attacks in the league. But on the bright side, the fifth-year star is currently on pace for well over 1,000 yards on the ground this season.

The Bengals may not finish at the top of the AFC North; they may not make the playoffs this year. Still, the fact of the matter is the culture in Cincinnati has changed, the fanbases optimism has risen, and the approach and focus of the team have improved drastically. Zac Taylor has this team playing confident and team-driven football.

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These are not the same old Cincinnati Bengals.