The Bengals are coming off of an incredible run through the AFC and a Super Bowl appearance for the first time since 1988.
Quarterback Joe Burrow is the Bengals leader, but which unit reigns supreme? Pro Football Focus gave that distinction to their wide receivers, naming them the team’s biggest strength.
Per Sam Monson of PFF:
“Ja’Marr Chase took the NFL by storm as a rookie and is already as good as any receiver in football. Even if he doesn’t improve in his second year, he forms the backbone of a dominant group. Tee Higgins may not quite have a true No. 1 skill set, but he is one of the most consistent secondary options in the league, while Tyler Boyd is an excellent slot option. Both Chase and Higgins averaged over 2.1 yards per route run last season, and all three receivers generated a passer rating of over 100.0 when targeted.”
Monson was right about Chase. The former LSU Tiger tallied 81 receptions for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. In the playoffs, Chase balled out for the Bengals with 25 receptions (35 targets) for 368 yards and a touchdown. His 92 yards per game were nearly seven yards more than he averaged in the regular season.
One word perfectly describes Higgins during his short time with the Bengals, consistent. After 67 receptions for 908 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie in 2020, Higgins amassed 74 receptions for 1,091 yards and six scores. The argument can be made that Higgins was the best receiver during the postseason last year, and certainly was in the Super Bowl with 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Boyd hasn’t quite reached the back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019 but he’s reached over 800 in the previous two with nine touchdown receptions. With the attention that Chase and Higgins get, Boyd is the ideal complement as a third option for the Bengals in the passing game, or second depending on the situation.
Burrow is like a kid in the candy store with all these weapons to throw to, especially Chase since they were college teammates and won a national title together. If any AFC team wants to knock the Bengals off the conference thrown, they’ll have to neutralize this trio of playmakers.
The depth is a concern, however
What happens if one of the Bengals’ top three guys get injured? It would be a rather large blow considering the depth behind them is pretty scarce.
Just put it this way: The quartet of Stanley Morgan, Mike Thomas, Trenton Irwin, and Trent Taylor have combined for a total of 117 catches for 1,168 yards and four touchdowns over the course of their careers.
Our own Evan Winter even wrote Friday how it may be a good idea for the Bengals to sign a veteran like Emmanuel Sanders to help beef up the receiving depth.
Will the Bengals add someone? Who knows. But it wouldn’t be a bad idea, at the end of the day.
Feature image via Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK