Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, and the rest of the Cincinnati Bengals seem like an aberration. Two drafts ago, they picked No. 1, and now, they’re in the Super Bowl. The franchise’s path isn’t unheard of, however.
Something like this did happen before when the Dallas Cowboys dynamic trio of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin took the NFL by storm. They didn’t stop until they’d won three Lombardi Trophies. Are the Bengals on the same path?
Joe Burrow and the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals look a lot like Troy Aikman’s early ’90s Dallas Cowboys
In 1988, the Dallas Cowboys finished 3-13 and selected UCLA QB Troy Aikman No. 1 in the 1989 NFL Draft. The year before, they picked Miami WR Michael Irvin, and the year after, they took Florida RB Emmitt Smith.
By 1992, the Cowboys were in their first Super Bowl, which they won 52-17 over the Buffalo Bills. The “Triplets,” as Aikman, Irvin, and Smith were known, won two more Lombardi Trophies in the next three seasons to become the NFL dynasty of the early ’90s.
The similarities between those Dallas Cowboys and these Cincinnati Bengals are evident.
In 2019, the Cincinnati Bengals finished 2-14 and drafted LSU quarterback Joe Burrow No. 1 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Three drafts earlier, the Bengals took Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon in the second round. A year after Burrow, they took his college teammate Ja’Marr Chase at No. 5.
Two seasons later, they’re in the Super Bowl.
Seeing the resemblance between the two teams is easy. But former Sportscenter host and current Chief Trends Officer of Caesars Sportsbook Trey Wingo explained why it’s important.
Trey Wingo explained the advantages teams like the ’21 Bengals and ’92 Cowboys have
During the 1992 season when the Dallas Cowboys first made the Super Bowl, the stars were very young. Michael Irvin and Troy Aikman were 26, and Emmitt Smith was 23.
Trey Wingo joined the Rich Eisen Show this week and talked about the mentality of young teams like those Cowboys and these Bengals:
If [the Bengals] win Sunday, they’ll have a faster turnaround than the ultimate turnaround, which was the Cowboys from ’89 — they went 1-15 — to Super Bowl champs back-to-back years. They’ll do it faster than that team, which is remarkable. At this point, they’re playing with house money. They don’t know anything but success at this point.Trey WIngo on the ’21 Cincinnati Bengals and the ’92 Dallas Cowboys
When Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, and Ja’Marr Chase take the field Sunday in their first Super Bowl, they’ll be 25, 25, and 21, respectively.
This group doesn’t know how hard success is to obtain in the NFL, like Von Miller, who’s won a Super Bowl and didn’t get back for six seasons. They don’t know how years of failure feel like Matthew Stafford does, who just won his first playoff game this year.
The NFL’s new Triplets only know how to win, and that could earn them not just this Super Bowl but several to come like the last Triplets.
Is there a dynasty brewing in Cincinnati?
Win or lose on Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals are set up for a long run of success.
As far as the team’s three stars go, Joe Mixon’s contact goes through 2023, Burrow’s through 2024 (with his fifth-year option), and Ja’Marr Chase’s through 2025 with the fifth year.
Beyond the Bengals’ Big Three, the team’s roster is constructed incredibly well going forward. The franchise has all its picks in the 2022 NFL Draft and the fourth-most cap room in the league this offseason with an estimated $55 million in free space.
On top of the favorable contracts, the picks, and the cap space, the Bengals have a 38-year-old head coach in Zac Taylor. They will also return their offensive and defensive coordinators next season, Brian Callahan and Lou Anarumo.
All that said, you never know what can happen. The owner and the coach — who were college roommates — could fall out, and the coach could leave, ultimately stunting the dynasty.
OK, that scenario might be unique to Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson, but with Mike Brown as the Cincinnati owner, you never know what could happen with these bright future Bengals.
As long as they stay away from the drama, though, and keep relatively healthy, the sky’s the limit for this young Super Bowl team.
All contract figures courtesy of Spotrac