Aside from losses in the first two games, it has been so far, so good for Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.
The top pick in April’s NFL draft, Burrow has shown the same poise and talent that earned him the Heisman Trophy at LSU last year. Teammates, other NFL players, and even Ohio native LeBron James have praised the rookie’s play.
After an 0-2 start, Burrow shared his goal for himself and the Cincinnati Bengals. Given what Burrow did at LSU, every team should be terrified by his latest proclamation.
Joe Burrow has played well in his two starts
Even after not having a traditional adjustment in the strangest NFL offseason in league history, Joe Burrow has looked sharp in the Bengals’ first two games.
Burrow completed 61.9% of his passes for 509 yards, three touchdowns, and only one interception in the team’s two losses. The rookie also ran for 65 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Burrow completed 37 of his 61 passes in a Week 2 loss to the rival Browns. Cincinnati’s two losses have come by a combined eight points.
Burrow hasn’t been flawless, though
Anyone who thought Joe Burrow was going to immediately come in and turn the Bengals into an 11-win team needs to look back in the mirror.
Like any rookie, Burrow’s had his bright spots, but also his fair share of mistakes. Burrow took six sacks in his first two games, and some were on him holding the ball too long.
According to Pro-Football-Reference, 19 of Burrow’s 97 passes — or 20.2% — are considered “bad throws.”
Compare that to Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew, who only had eight “bad throws” in his first 107 attempts through three tries. Dolphins standout Ryan Fitzpatrick, who also had 97 pass attempts through three games, only had a bad throw on 9.4% of his passes.
Joe Burrow just put other teams on notice
Of all the quarterbacks who qualified through two games (and Gardner Minshew and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started in Miami’s Week 3 victory on Thursday Night Football), Joe Burrow’s 5.2 yards per attempt was easily the lowest in the NFL.
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (5.9) is the only other quarterback averaging less than six yards per attempt.
Don’t expect that to remain the standard much longer. In a recent press conference, Burrow said the Bengals are emphasizing big plays going forward.
“We’ve also just played two styles of defenses that don’t give up big plays and keep everything in front of you and make you check it down and make you work down the field. But we’ve also missed some opportunities to put the ball down the field. We are gonna get more opportunities. We just have to connect on them.”
Joe Burrow thrived at LSU when the Tigers completed long plays last year. Obviously, NFL defenses are far different than the SEC or any lower-level team LSU played early in the 2019 campaign, but Burrow has a knack for the big play.
The most successful teams tailor their offense to where their quarterback plays best. Buffalo retooled its offense around Josh Allen and he’s quickly become one of the league’s most underrated quarterbacks.
Cincinnati may not be a playoff team this year, but they should retool the offensive gameplan as soon as possible. The quicker that happens, the sooner Burrow will lead them back to the postseason.
All stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.