The Cincinnati Bengals have hopes of becoming a playoff team in the near future under new head coach, Zac Taylor. This comes after Marvin Lewis was fired after being with the organization for 16 seasons.
In those 16 seasons, the Bengals made the playoffs seven times but never won a game in the postseason. The front office knew a change was needed to hopefully put the franchise in the right direction.
With Taylor, Cincinnati is getting a young offensive mind that figures to help the offense get back on track. The 2018 season was a disappointing one in all facets of the game for the Bengals.
Last season, the Bengals ranked 26th in total offense (24th in passing, 21st in rushing). Andy Dalton had his season cut short with injury last year—hoping to return to being healthy in 2019.
Joe Mixon found himself having a vital role in the offense in 2018. The second-year running back rushed for 1,168 yards on 237 carries and eight touchdowns.
Those two guys are important pieces for the Bengals to having a successful 2019 season.
Here are three x-factors for the Bengals who are essential to the team in 2019.
3. William Jackson
The Bengals defense had an awful season in 2018 any way you look at it. Their pass defense was especially horrific—allowing the most passing yards in the NFL with 4,414 yards.
The secondary was led by Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson, Shawn Williams, and Jessie Bates. Kirkpatrick dealt with injuries while Jackson struggled a bit in his third season in the NFL.
Jackson had an impressive 2017 campaign after missing the entire 2016 season with an injury. In 2017, Jackson intercepted one pass, 14 pass deflections, and 25 total tackles.
The Bengals young corner showed he has the potential to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Although, in 2018, he took a step back and showed that he still needs some work before reaching his potential.
The 2019 season is going to be an important one for Jackson.
He will need to have a bounce-back year in 2019 if the Bengals defense hopes to return to being a top defense in the NFL.
2. Joe Mixon
With Taylor being inaugurated as the new head coach, the offense is going to look different in 2019. The offense should begin to revolve around the running game and Joe Mixon.
Again, Mixon had an excellent season last year as the Bengals starting running back. The offense was its best when Mixon was the focal point in the backfield.
In 2018, Cincinnati ranked 21st in the NFL when it came to running the football. As a result, Taylor will likely find ways to get Mixon even more involved to get the ground game going in 2019.
The Bengals will need another productive season from their third-year running back. In 2019, expect a heavy dosage of Mixon with a little Giovani Bernard mixed in.
The upcoming season could put Mixon in the conversation of receiving an extension sometime in the foreseeable future.
1. Tyler Boyd
Some people may be surprised that Boyd tops the list but you shouldn’t be. For years, the Bengals have been searching for a wide receiver that could shoulder some of the load alongside A.J. Green.
They may have finally found their guy in Tyler Boyd. In 2018, Boyd impressed by catching 76 passes for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns.
Over the course of his first two seasons in the NFL, Boyd struggled to grasp the offense. In his first two seasons, he combined for 76 catches, 828 yards, and three scores.
His 2018 season made everyone forget about his first two seasons rather quickly. We all know how talented Green is but he needs someone else who can take some targets through the air.
If the Bengals hope to be a better offense in 2019, they need Boyd to step into an even larger role within the offense.
Dalton would love for Boyd and Green to stay healthy as well so the offense can get rolling.