Joe Burrow Reveals the Secret Sauce That Sets the Cincinnati Bengals Apart From the Rest of the NFL: ‘Pretty Rare’

The Cincinnati Bengals have shocked the world repeatedly in the 2021 season. They won the AFC North title at 10-7, thanks to a strong stretch to end the regular season. Joe Burrow and company carried that momentum into the NFL playoffs.

Very few would’ve agreed if you asked people before the season if the Bengals would be in the Super Bowl. However, Zac Taylor’s squad has done just that. Burrow has become one of the leaders of this football team and isn’t surprised Cincinnati has made it this far.

Joe Burrow praises the locker room cohesion in Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Bengals were the biggest surprise team of the 2021 season. While it has been an all-around effort, Joe Burrow’s emergence has been a significant reason for the team’s success.

The second-year signal-caller recently sat down with Drew Brees and NBC Sports to discuss Cincinnati’s improbable run to the 2022 Super Bowl. Burrow talked about the similarities between transferring from Ohio State to LSU and heading to the pros.

“It’s felt pretty similar,” said Burrow. “We have a lot of the same players. Ja’Marr is here. Tyler Shelvin is here. A lot of guys I played with at Ohio State as well. The surroundings for me when I got here were very familiar, and I knew a lot of people.”

The LSU product also touched on the makeup of this team and what sets the Bengals apart from other teams in the NFL.

“Our locker room is really, really close,” Burrow added. “It was the same way at LSU. I think that’s what’s put us over the edge. Every team has really good players, and we have as good a roster as anybody. But I would say our locker room cohesion is pretty rare.”

Joe Burrow added that this Bengals team is full of great people who love being around each other, which makes it easier to go to work on the field.

The Bengals overachieved in the 2021 season

Joe Burrow and the Bengals take the field before the AFC Championship Game.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow takes the field with his teammates before AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs | David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Bengals finished with an abysmal 4-11-1 record in 2020. It was unclear what to expect from this team heading into 2021, but not many people thought it could reach the Super Bowl.

Cincinnati had its ups and downs, but it was clear that the team drastically improved from the previous season. Joe Burrow set the tone for the season that was to come. He returned healthy from his season-ending knee injury and elevated his game to a level fitting for a No. 1 overall pick.

As Burrow went, so did the rest of the Bengals players. The 25-year-old has been oozing with confidence all season long, and his teammates feed off of his energy.

The Bengals boasted the league’s seventh-ranked offense, averaging 361.4 yards and 27 points per game. The defense wasn’t nearly as dominant, but the unit was much better than it was in 2020. It finished as the No. 5 defense against the run.

Zac Taylor’s squad went 10-7 and surprisingly took home the AFC North crown. The team carried the momentum into the playoffs and rattled off an impressive three-game run to reach the Super Bowl.

The culture change in Cincy sets the stage for a perennial playoff contender

The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t a storied franchise. Winning isn’t the franchise’s calling card. However, this is a completely different Bengals team.

Over the past several seasons, Cincinnati was a laughing stock in the AFC North. From 2016 to 2020, the team posted a combined 25-53-2 record. Even with a healthy Joe Burrow, few gave the Bengals a legitimate shot at winning the division.

This team doesn’t seem to care if anyone outside of their locker room or fan base believes in them, though. Cincinnati understands the level of talent on its roster and genuinely feels like it can compete with the best of them.

The front office has done a phenomenal job setting the foundation. Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase has been as advertised in 2021. Joe Mixon has established himself as one of the best young running backs in the game. Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins round out the high-powered offense.

Defensively, several young pieces have emerged. Trey Hendrickson, Jessie Bates, Mike Hilton, and Logan Wilson have been huge for the Bengals defense.

Above all else, this team has changed the culture in Cincy. The Bengals have a confident swagger about themselves. They’re tired of being doormats and decided to do the stomping in hopes of winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

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