CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals started the current phase of offseason workouts with knowledge they didn’t have last spring.
This time a year ago, the last-place team in the AFC North was trying to find its way back into playoff contention. By the end of the season, the Bengals were a possession or two away from winning their first-ever Super Bowl.
In his first news conference since Cincinnati’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said the postseason run will give them the confidence to make another run.
“Going into last year, we knew we were good, but I think going into the playoffs, we knew we could win but we weren’t really sure what it took,” Burrow said Tuesday. “We just went out there and played really hard and together as a team, and it worked out.
“Now, we know what it takes and we have that experience in our back pockets going forward.”
This week marked the beginning of phase 2 of voluntary workouts, a three-week period that allows coaches to work with players during on-field drills. It’s the first time the team has worked together since the Bengals’ best season in three decades ended with a 23-20 loss to the Rams.
Before last postseason, Cincinnati hadn’t reached the playoffs since 2015 and was in the midst of the NFL’s longest drought without a playoff win, which stretched back to January 1991.
Burrow said he rewatched the Super Bowl and processed the loss like any other he has suffered throughout his playing career. Cincinnati wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, last season’s Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year, hasn’t revisited the dramatic finish but agreed that the postseason experience gave the team confidence for 2022.
“Now we just gotta have the expectation that we’re one of the best in the league,” Chase said Tuesday. “We gotta keep that expectation and roll with it.”
Last season marked the Bengals’ third conference championship, matching the franchise’s feats from the 1981 and 1988 seasons. Historically, Cincinnati has been unable to sustain postseason success. The Bengals have never won playoff games in back-to-back seasons.
After a season in which Cincinnati upended so many negative trends, the Bengals will have another mark to smash to remain Super Bowl contenders.
“We’ve seen it, we’ve done it,” Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins said. “And we know what it takes to get back to that point. That’s our standard now. That’s our standard for this team. Ain’t no looking back.”