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NFL Draft

NFL’s 5 Most Intriguing Offenses Entering 2021 Season

  • The Draft Network
  • June 22, 2021
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With minicamp now in the books, NFL players and personnel are officially in vacation mode as they look to rest up ahead of training camp, which will begin late in July. For us fans, now is truly the dead time for football as most of the marquee free agents have signed and there will be little news that comes across our timelines until we get closer to teams reporting back for training camp. During this time, we at The Draft Network will be evaluating some of the top draft-eligible players for the 2022 draft and also will be studying film of last year’s 2020 NFL season in order to study the team's rosters and tendencies before we get to the 2021 season. 

As I have been watching film of last year’s NFL season, a thought came to my mind: Once the season is here and I have a choice of what games to watch on RedZone and Sunday Ticket, what team’s in the NFL have the most intriguing offenses? Now, the question here isn’t which teams have the best offenses, but rather which offense is the most interesting and deserves my attention as I flip through games on an NFL Sunday.

Creating this list was challenging, as in an offensive league there were plenty of units that deserved to be mentioned. That being said, here are my top five most intriguing offenses heading into the 2021 season. 

Dallas Cowboys

This one is pretty self-explanatory. With quarterback Dak Prescott returning from a season-ending ankle injury, this offense should be one of the most exciting units in all of football. Prior to going down in Week 5 of last season, the Cowboys' offense was on pace to lead the league in every single team statistic—they were first in points, passing yards per game, and total yards per game. The Cowboys ended up finishing last in those categories from Week 6 on without Prescott. 

Along with a healthy Prescott, the Cowboys also return arguably the best trio of wide receivers in the NFL. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup can all be a team’s No. 1 receiver in almost any offense, and when they are all on the field together with Prescott disturbing them the football, they are virtually unrecoverable. Lamb specifically is a player who I believe is on the verge of a massive breakout season and I for one am excited to watch him take that next step.

Dallas offers some other less noteworthy storylines on offense as well, such as the running back duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard and also the health of their offensive line. If the Cowboys' offense is on RedZone, I will be watching. 

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals were one of the worst football teams in the league last season, but for one reason or another, I found myself always tuning in whenever Joe Burrow’s unit had the football. Burrow was on pace to have one of the best rookie seasons we have ever seen before going down with a season-ending ACL injury. With an improved supporting cast around him, he could be in store for a huge sophomore year. Burrow’s savviness and creativity in the pocket along with his outstanding touch and pinpoint accuracy makes him easily one of the most enjoyable quarterbacks to watch. 

Cincinnati went all in this offseason to provide Burrow with much more talent around him to ensure he succeeds. The front office added Riley Reiff as the team’s new right tackle and drafted Jackson Carman in the second round to shore up one of the team’s guard spots. Those two additions will undoubtedly help an offensive line that struggled to keep Burrow upright last season. The team also drafted Burrow’s former partner in crime at LSU in wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who is one of the best receivers to come into the league in recent seasons. Chase joins a receiver room that consists of Tyler Boyd and second-year player Tee Higgins—one of the more talented groups in the NFL.

With a healthy Burrow, these receivers, and running back Joe Mixon set to bounce back from an injury-plagued season, this Bengals' offense should be fun to watch. 

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles returns second-year quarterback Justin Herbert, who had the best rookie season statistically in NFL history. Herbert now enters his second season with a new offensive coordinator in Joe Lombardi, who comes over from the New Orleans Saints where he served as Drew Brees' quarterback coach. Herbert will look to improve on his historic rookie season and avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.

Luckily for Herbert, the Chargers also return one of the best receiver duos in football in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Allen is the best pure route-runner in football and Williams is a contested-catch machine who makes 50/50 situations more like 70/30. With Allen, Williams, and a healthy Austin Ekeler returning for the Chargers, Herbert will have no shortage of weapons to deliver strikes to. 

Perhaps the most important thing the Chargers did this offseason was completely overhauling the offensive line. The team signed center Corey Linsley, guard Matt Feiler, and guard Oday Aboushi to shore up the interior of the offensive line. Los Angeles then went on to draft Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater, who will slide in and start at left tackle from day one. This offensive line is significantly better than last year’s group and will help Herbert and Co. move the football. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

This is arguably the offense that I’m most intrigued by entering the 2021 season. The Jaguars offense is now led by first-year NFL head coach Urban Meyer and first overall pick quarterback Trevor Lawrence. That’s a bit more exciting than a Doug Marrone and Gardner Minshew-led unit, isn’t it?

Starting with Meyer, the question for me is how will his scheme and offensive tendencies translate to the NFL? Will he utilize a bunch of spread, RPO, and read-option concepts that were such a staple in his offenses with Ohio State and Florida? He certainly has the personnel to do so with an impressive group of skill position players in receivers Laviska Shenault, D.J. Chark, and Marvin Jones, plus running backs James Robinson and first-round pick Travis Etienne. That being said, offensive coordinator Darren Bevell has traditionally run a more traditional drop-back offense, so it’ll be interesting to see how much influence he has on the offense. 

Whatever scheme Meyer and Bevell run this season they’ll have the luxury of having Lawrence running the show. Perhaps the most highly regarded prospect in the history of the NFL, Lawrence will have a ton of pressure in his first season. Lawrence’s blend of arm strength, accuracy, and athleticism will allow him to be a big-play threat early and often in his young career. 

Carolina Panthers

One of the major storylines entering this season is if Sam Darnold’s inconsistent career is a product of the Jets' dysfunction or is he just simply not a franchise quarterback. Now in Carolina, Darnold will have a chance to prove that he is capable of being a team’s franchise signal-caller and that he was worthy of a top pick. This offense will be far and away the most talented group Darnold has played in since entering the NFL back in 2018.

Led by Christian McCaffrey, who should be healthy after an injury-plagued 2020 season, this offense offers playmakers who can score any time they touch the football. Wide receiver D.J. Moore is one of the most underrated players in football and Robby Anderson is one of the best pure deep threats in the game. The team also drafted wide receiver Terrace Marshall in the second round who should develop into a nice No. 3 option. 

While Darnold has massive pressure on him entering this season, this is also a huge year for offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Brady, who was mentioned as a potential head coaching candidate last offseason, saw his offense ranked in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories last offseason. Now, with McCaffrey injured for most of the season and Teddy Bridgewater being his quarterback, he wasn’t in much of a situation to deliver a high-octane offense. If he can turn around Darnold’s career and put some points on the board with McCaffrey the rest of the playmakers, I expect to see Brady as a head coach in 2022. 

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