Joe Burrow’s offseason prior to being drafted No. 1 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals was a daunting one for the rookie QB. Reminiscent of the Eli Manning-Philip Rivers draft, analysts’ outlook for Burrow often suggested that the LSU QB would be better denouncing any chance of him playing for the Bengals. Burrow ultimately accepted the challenge of joining a rebuild effort for a franchise with below-average identity in the league.
Playing the position best he could behind a porous offensive line (32 sacks in 10 games) and depleted cast of receivers, Joe Burrow produced a solid 10-game stretch as a rookie that proved his all-time, final season at LSU in 2019 was not lightning in a bottle.
Before his injury against the Washington Football Team in Week 11, Joe Burrow was on pace to break a number of rookie records, including: Passing Yards, Passing Completions, Passing Attempts, Lowest INTs.
After recovering from the season-ending ACL injury, Burrow is back on the field giving coach Zac Taylor optimism that an LSU-like season may be ahead for Joe Cool.
Taylor commented on his returning franchise quarterback after Bengals OTAs: “It’s been fun watching him because he looks good throwing the football … Obviously, he can’t do all the moves and stuff and what he’ll be doing once the season rolls around. But just watching him throw the football, it’s the same old Joe.”
According to the team’s website, Burrow’s practice consisted of zipping passes to receivers with such velocity that receivers began wincing at every completing.
Veteran receiver Tyler Boyd gave his thoughts on Burrow’s new throws: “Earlier Tee (Higgins), had dropped the first ball because Joe’s smoking them.” Tyler Boyd added, “They’re coming. So we’ve got to anticipate that because Joe got stronger last year as well. So hands was out there stinging a little bit, but we’ve got to adjust to it. We’re receivers, we’ve got to catch everything that’s thrown at us.”
Like the Niners in the NFC West minus the coaching prowess, the Bengals sit fourth in a loaded division with few ways out. The Browns’ stock continues to rise, Steelers have one of the best coaching staffs in the league, and Lamar Jackson’s dual-threat offense will prove to be difficult obstacles for Cincinnati’s rebuild, rebrand, reBurrow, whatever you want to call it.
The team is still working to justify firing previous head coach Marvin Jones in favor of Zac Taylor. Though the fanbase salivated over Lewis’ ousting from Cincinnati after nearly a decade of lukewarm regular season records, the switch to Taylor—a heavily criticized pick based on his connection to the Sean McVay coaching tree—has been anything but justified after only six wins in the past two seasons. After working two year’s as an assistant on the Rams before his foray into head coaching, critics of Taylor may be right in considering the pick too green to lead an NFL team. Taylor is hoping that a fully healthy Burrow will give him the tools to get the offense going and help build the organization’s status in the league.
Marvin Lewis won 27 games in his first three season, for reference.
Cincinnati’s lottery draft picks are giving the Bengals roster semblance of a playoff team. With young talent such as Jonah Williams and Auden Tate to help the offense around Burrow flourish, the offense may be in play to a surprise out of the AFC storylines. Most notable of the units on offense, the receiving corps looks to give the sophomore quarterback plenty of options to build momentum, along with the addition of Burrow’s former LSU teammate and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
Which already sounds better than the Ryan Finley/Brandon Allen-led 29th ranked offense from 2020.