Pressure on Joe Burrow to Take Bengals Back to the Future
Big hair, breakdancing and two Super Bowl appearances. The 80s was a good time for Bengals fans. Although both trips to the big show ended in defeat, there was no shame in losing to a 49ers team led by Joe Montana. Cincinnati is hoping Joe Burrow is the man who can return them to that level of competitiveness once again.
All-time College Great?
The 2019 Heisman Trophy winner and number 1 draft pick is highly rated. His name has even entered the conversation of Greatest College Quarterback of all time. Joe Burrow is now expected to lead a Cincinnati Bengals team who went 2-14 last season out of their current rut and back to winning ways.
There is a burden of expectation that Joe Burrow will be Cincinnati’s savior
While it would definitely be a stretch to call the current Bengals a championship-potential team, their season record 2-5-1 does not quite tell the full story. Of their five losses they have blown leads in three of these games after leading going into the 4th quarter.
Against the Chargers in Week 1 there was an offensive interference call against the Bengals on a caught touchdown pass and a missed 31 yard field goal attempt by kicker Randy Bullock, both in the dying seconds of the game. In Week 7 vs AFC North foes the Cleveland Browns, the Bengals took the lead with just over a minute left. After two Hail Mary catches by the Browns the Bengals once again walked away with a loss.
If they had won these two games the Bengals would be a .500 team and snapping at the heels of the Lemar Jackson led Baltimore Ravens and the Baker Mayfield led Browns.
So far this season Burrow has 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He has also rushed for 3 TDs and has a 67% completion percentage. In three of his eight games he has completed over 70% of his passes, which for a rookie is noteworthy. His 60.9 QBR ranks him in the lower middle of the pack halfway through his first NFL season.
Burrow has found ways to get in the endzone but needs more protection from his line
The manner of his two wins over the Titans and the Jaguars give plenty of reason for optimism. From his arm talent, pocket awareness, the ability to use his legs, and his toughness, the signs are promising. But like any quarterback in the league, he will need some more pieces around him to get to where the Bengals want to be.
Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard are both capable backs and the receiving core is also competent. Currently, Tyler Boyd (584 yards) leads the team with Pro Bowler A.J Green enduring a difficult start to the year. If Green can get back to his Pro Bowl form, then it will help Burrow immensely.
The offensive line will also need an upgrade. Burrow has been sacked 28 times so far this season with 7 of them coming in a 27-3 loss to the Ravens. Even more worryingly, he was sacked 8 times against the Eagles. It is paramount that he gets the protection he needs so that he can be healthy in the long term.
The 31-20 victory over the AFC South leading Titans last time out was perhaps one of Burrow’s better games. He went 26/37 for 249 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. This earned him a 106.7 QB rating and with no sacks suggests he is finding his feet in the league.
Ups and Downs Expected
As a rookie there are going to be ups and downs. This is especially true when you are a player coming off one of the greatest college seasons of all time. There are huge expectations on Burrow’s young shoulders. However, the signs are promising as he has already won as many games in his eight starts as the Bengals did in the whole of the previous season.
After years hanging round the lower end of the AFC the Bengals franchise might finally be heading in the right direction. As for their fan base, it could be time to get excited again. Joe Burrow might just be the man to turn back time and lead the Cincinnati Bengals back to the promised land of the Super Bowl.