Cincinnati Bengals 2023 Season Recap


It was a struggle all season for the Cincinnati Bengals. They got off to a shaky start but eventually found their groove, and while not great, they were getting there until Joe Burrow was injured. He entered the Week 11 game at Baltimore with an obvious issue with his throwing hand. He was off during the game, and his fate and the Bengals’ fate were sealed when he was tackled and landed on that hand. Although he had an impressive touchdown throw on the following play, Burrow was done for the season.

Jake Browning tried his best to step in for Burrow, but those were tough shoes to fill. His best was not good enough to keep the team anywhere in contention, and they ended the season last in the AFC North. Their season did not go as they expected. We take a look at what went right and wrong and what big question remains.

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What Went Right

It did not feel like much went right for the Bengals this past season. The slow start and injuries did not help, but that is usually when a team finds out who they really are. Browning did a decent job of replacing Burrow, but the difference was noticeable. There is potential in their rookies, but time will tell if they will contribute to the team.

The adversity they faced throughout the season began in preseason and continued until the end. The veteran leadership was there to help right the ship and to help others process and work through the adversity. They found faith in each other and the next man up no matter what happened. Not many teams can come out on the other side stronger and wiser.


What Went Wrong

Injuries all around. Losing Burrow to injury midseason derailed what appeared to be a Bengals team on the rebound. Having one of the toughest schedules of the season without your star QB is something they certainly weren’t expecting. Despite the offense being the heart of the team, they need to fix their defense, which seemed to take a giant step back this season. So, issues on both sides of the ball must be addressed this offseason.

Team Award Winners

MVP – Joe Burrow

The first few games of the season were a little shaky due to a calf strain that limited him. However, he reached his stride around the game against the 49ers. Unfortunately, three games later, he would be out for the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his wrist on his throwing hand. He is still the MVP of the team, the one everyone can look to for direction and leadership. There is no team without him.

Rookie of the Year – Jordan Battle

Drafted in the 3rd round by the Bengals, Battle had 71 tackles (43 solo), two sacks and one interception. Not bad for a rookie. He was a Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team choice, which is good to see. It helps confirm what Cincinnati saw in him and what he has been able to do on the field.

Best Offseason Addition – Orlando Brown Jr.

While the season did not go as he or anyone else on the team expected, Brown was an excellent addition to the offensive line for the Bengals. The 2023 season is trending to be one of his worst, but keep in mind that he was one of the players injured during the season. Ideally, he will be back as good as new next season, ready to protect his quarterback.

Biggest Surprise – Jake Browning

Not many could come off the bench and take Burrow’s place. Browning was able to do so and had 15 total touchdowns (12 passing, three rushing), nearly 2,000 passing yards, and a 98.4 passer rating. While the numbers might not be impressive, it is nice to know that Cincinnati has a backup QB to keep the team going forward.

Biggest Disappointment – Irv Smith Jr.

He had just 18 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown in 12 games and six starts. It was a disappointing year for fans who thought he might be the tight end they’d been looking for. Tanner Hudson quickly passed him on the depth chart, and luckily, Smith was only signed to a one-year deal.

One Burning Question

Will they get back to the Super Bowl and win?

Getting to the Super Bowl only a few seasons ago seems like a faraway dream. They beat the Kansas City Chiefs to make it there, only to lose to the Los Angeles Rams. In the seasons since, they have not done as well, and it appears they are regressing. This past season could be left out and not counted since Burrow was hurt, but it was not all that great to begin with.

For the Bengals to return, they need a healthy Burrow, and the front office must do more. Injuries were a significant issue, especially with Burrow and Tee Higgins. We know Burrow is not going anywhere, and they are going to tag Higgins. If they choose not to keep Higgins, they must find a player to replace him and pick up a few more players Burrow can target. The offensive coaches must also find a way to shore up their pass protection.

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