Bengals dominating at NFL Honors not something we saw coming last year

Leigh Oleszczak
Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

This time last year, the Cincinnati Bengals were coming off a four-win season. Zac Taylor was on the hot seat, Joe Burrow had only appeared in 10 games before getting injured and having to get surgery, and Ja’Marr Chase wasn’t a member of the team yet.

Fast forward to the present day and the stripes are appearing in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1989. I don’t care if you’re the biggest Bengals fan in the world, no one predicted this would happen, not after how last season played out.

Cincinnati Bengals stars of NFL Honors

I mentioned in that opening paragraph how Taylor was entering the season on the hot seat after only winning six games in his first two years at the helm.

Well, on Thursday night, Taylor was a strong candidate to win Coach of the Year. While Mike Vrabel of the Titans ultimately won the honor, the fact that Taylor was even considered to win it was something none of us could have predicted a year ago. Most probably figured the team would be looking for a new head coach rather than Taylor being up for Coach of the Year.

I also mentioned how Burrow started 10 games before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. The jury was out on how Burrow would perform in year two and while he got off to a slow start, he came on ridiculously strong in the second half, winning Comeback Player of the Year.

What made winning this award even more impressive is that Burrow wasn’t supposed to win it. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was the favorite for the title before the season even began and despite Burrow playing better than him at times, Prescott still was the favorite because of the team he plays for.

That shows how damn good Burrow was in just his second year, and remember, these awards are based on regular-season performance. As the tweet below says, “Burrow won it. Dak lost it” and that wasn’t based on the postseason.

Lastly, the Bengals didn’t have Chase on their team a year ago. Many didn’t expect him to be in Cincinnati after the 2021 NFL Draft due to the tremendous need the Bengals had for an offensive lineman. They passed on taking one fifth overall and went with Chase instead, a move that was criticized all offseason long.

Well, after Chase struggled with drops in the preseason, he shut everyone up en route to the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. A wide receiver winning this over a quarterback isn’t common but that’s how good Chase was in 2021. Mac Jones winning the title would have been a travesty.

This time last year, none of us would have predicted the Bengals would be prepping to play in the Super Bowl but we also couldn’t have predicted that the team would dominate the NFL Honors.

This season truly was special.