My Tiny Hands: Is Joe Burrow a Good Fit For the Cincinnati Bengals?

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @KongFu4U

Andy Dalton has been the Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback for the last 8 years. As quarterback, Dalton made it to the post season five consecutive times from 2011-2015, losing the Wild Card game each time. The AFC North, which includes the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, has been a tough division to win. The Bengals are one of two teams in the AFC North that has never won a Super Bowl, but at least the Browns won eight Championship Games prior to the Super Bowl era.

Joe Burrow joins the franchise with huge expectations (even with his tiny hands).

The first overall pick in the 2020 draft, Burrow was the 2019 Heisman Trophy Winner coming off a Championship season with LSU.

The expectations were seemingly met in week 1 on the first drive with Burrow’s first rushing touchdown, being the first points on the board by either team.

The game remained close, and a comeback was always within sight for the young quarterback, even down to the last drive of the game where an AJ Green touchdown that would have completed the comeback was called back on pass interference. Unfortunately, the Bengals didn’t win their season opener, losing 13-16, with a missed 31-yard field goal by usually reliable kicker Randy Bullock with 2-seconds remaining. Bullock had connected on 24 consecutive field goals inside the 40 prior to that game.

Of course, a successful field goal wouldn’t have guaranteed a Cincinnati win, but it would have given the Bengals a chance.  Burrow ended up with 23 rush yards, a rushing touchdown and 23 of 36 passes for 193 passing yards.

In week two, the Bengals faced off against division rivals, the Cleveland Browns, on Thursday Night Football. Burrow looked poised, completing 37 of 61 passes for 316 passing yards and 3 passing touchdowns, adding 19 rush yards. Burrow looked more confident in week 2, taking more risks and looking more comfortable throwing the ball. But with 3 sacks for a loss of 31-yards and a fumble turnover that gave the Browns offense the ball at inches and goal, leading to a Browns touchdown, the the Bengals ultimately lost, 30-35.

A loss doesn’t necessary mean you have a problem with your quarterback, though, and for the Bengals, Burrow is far from the biggest issues they have (I’m looking at you defense).

Like many successful quarterbacks entering the league recently, Burrow is a passing quarterback with the ability to use his legs to scramble when necessary. It’s a commodity that has served several young quarterbacks in the league. Just look at Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Carson Wentz just to name a a few. Cincinnati clearly adapted it’s offense to allow Burrow to be more mobile. The use of the running back on a receiving route down field out of a empty backfield set was a popular option for Burrow during his time in LSU, and the Bengals leaned on it often in week 2. In addition, Burrow was clearly comfortable spreading the ball around. Tyler Boyd has become a reliable go-to receiver for Burrows, catching 7 of 8 targets for 72 yards and a touchdown after catching 4 of 5 targets for 33 yards in week 1. Burrow’s big target, AJ Green, was 3 for a whopping 13 targets for 29 yards after catching 5 for 9 targets for 51 yards in week 1. And tight ends seem to have become Burrow’s favorite safety blanket in week 2 with 25% of his targets going to a tight end. CJ Uzomah caught 4 of 6 targets for 42 yards and a touchdown and Drew Sample caught 7 of 9 targets for 45 yards, most of which came after Uzomah’s Achilles injury.

Burrow’s first NFL touchdown pass, in fact, came in the 2nd quarter to Uzomah, who caught a 23 yard pass in the endzone, before leaving the game with a possible torn right Achilles.

The Bengals version of the West Coast offense employed in week 2 played to Burrow’s strengths, focusing on timing and a dynamic passing game rather than the ground. The Bengals trailed the entire game, which led to the Bengals essentially abandoning the run altogether and requiring Burrow to throw an incredible 61 passes, the second most by any rookie quarterback ever, and his 37 completions were actually the most of any rookie ever. Unlike week 1, where Burrow was 0-5 with passes beyond 20-yards against the LA Chargers, Burrow did manage to complete a pass beyond 20-yards in week 2, the 23-yard touchdown pass to CJ Uzomah. Unfortunately, Burrow had 9 deep pass attempts and 9 deep pass incompletions. AJ Green was the recipient of five deep ball targets, Tee Higgins was targeted twice and John Ross III was targeted once. In contrast, Burrow completed 13 passes between 10-19 yards, and 23 passes of less than 10 yards.

Even with two losses to start the season, Bengals fans can easily see the potential in their new quarterback. And the excitement of watching Burrow is evident, particularly in a challenging division. Let’s not forget, the AFC North features three Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks – Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens), Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns) and Joe Burrow. The AFC North is the first division in league history to start three Heisman winners simultaneously (and even Baltimore backup Robert Griffin III is a Heisman winner). With Burrow, the AFC North just got that much more competitive.

Up next, I discuss Joe Burrow in his new home with the Cincinnati Bengals!

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