The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t received much respect from the national media this offseason, despite winning the AFC in 2021.
Pro Football Focus, however, finally gave Cincinnati some much-deserved respect this week.
PFF ranked the NFL’s best receiving corps in 2022 and they have the Bengals, rightfully, at No. 1.
No team has a more impressive collection of young pass-game talent than the Bengals. Obviously, quarterback Joe Burrow is a big part of that, but the starting wide receiver trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd that came together last offseason contributed heavily to Burrow’s progression from his rookie season to 2021.
Chase established himself as one of the NFL’s best deep threats (league-high eight touchdowns on throws 20-plus yards downfield) and after-the-catch weapons (third among wide receivers in yards after the catch) at the position. Cincinnati’s decision to reunite him and Burrow also allowed Higgins and Boyd to profile as some of the better No. 2 and No. 3 options in the league, respectively.
It feels like this was a no-brainer, right?
Ja’Marr Chase just had the best season ever by a rookie wide receiver. He also had the best season ever by a Bengals wide receiver.
Chase’s stellar rookie season overshadowed a strong season from Tee Higgins, who was recently named the best pass catcher in the NFL using NextGen Stats’ catch rate over expected (CROE) metric.
And let’s not forget about Tyler Boyd, one of the most underrated wide receivers in the NFL.
Boyd has two seasons in the NFL with more than 1,000 receiving yards. And this past season, he caught 67 passes for 828 yards and five touchdowns, despite being the No. 3 wide receiver on the depth chart.
What’s scary for the rest of the NFL is that Cincinnati is really just getting started. This offseason is Burrow’s first “normal” offseason in the NFL, after spending one season going through virtual meetings due to COVID-19 and last offseason rehabbing his torn ACL. Imagine how much better the Bengals will be with a full offseason of work.
Cincinnati fans could be in for another special season in 2022.
Featured image via Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports