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The Hilltopper

The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

How Burrow’s Return Could Impact The Bengals

Nathan Mueller
Joe Burrow in front of the Bengals logo.

Last year, the Bengals went 9-8, finishing last in the AFC North. Quarterback Joe Burrow was limited by an ankle injury for the first few weeks, but after that, the offense began to catch fire.

The Bengals secured very solid victories against good teams, including the future NFC Champion, 49ers. Then, the Ravens’ defense injured Burrow on a play when he threw a touchdown. He tore a ligament in his thumb, which was a season-ending injury.

The Bengals stayed afloat under backup Quarterback Jake Browning and squeaked out a winning season. However, this year, Burrow will be back, and fans will see a complete offense for the first time in a few seasons.

Last year, players like Tee Higgins broke out and helped Browning keep the offense somewhat respectable in the final weeks. 

Young players like Chase Brown and Charlie Jones developed into solid players that could be explosive under a Joe Burrow offense. 

Despite trade talks, Higgins and defensive end, Trey Hendrickson are staying for the 2024-2025 season. Despite stars like Hendrickson and DJ Reader, the defense was mediocre last season, and unfortunately, there isn’t much improvement from a roster perspective for next year. 

The Bengals let Reader go to the Detroit Lions and Chidobe Awusie to the Tennessee Titans, making minimal efforts to improve the defense via the draft. They brought back veteran safety and former Bengal, Vonn Bell.They did bring in defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins from the Houston Texans and safety Geno Stone from the Baltimore Ravens. These are solid moves but feel more like temporary solutions than long-term investments.

The Bengals’ defense should be similar to last year’s team’s, but with Joe Burrow back, the offense should be more efficient, giving them more time between drives to recover. They could take the next step and return to being a contender.

The Bengals invested a lot of resources in defending Burrow; between the moves they made on the O-line last year and this offseason, a weak unit could be one of the best in the league. The Bengals drafted 6’ 7”, 340 lbs. offensive tackle, Amarius Mims and signed veteran offensive tackle, Trent Brown. They also still have Orlando Brown Jr., Ted Karras, and Alex Cappa, who have all proven decent linemen. 

Veteran running back Joe Mixon was traded away to the Houston Texans, and Zach Moss was brought in from the Colts to replace him. Moss was an excellent back for the Colts when All-Pro Jonathan Taylor went down last season, but it’s unlikely he can match Mixon’s production from previous seasons.

The Bengals also drafted wide receiver Jermaine Burton to replace veteran Tyler Boyd, who went to the Tennessee Titans with former Offensive Coordinator Brian Callahan. Burton has been showing massive flashes in voluntary minicamp and rookie mini-camp.

With all of the Bengal’s weapons and some decent foundational upgrades to the team, the rest of the league should be closely watching the return of Joe Burrow. Despite fears that his hand injury could limit his abilities, he has looked like his old self in mini-camp and all of Cincinnati is excited for the season.

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